BENGALURU: With less than 11 months to go for the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian men’s hockey team suffered another jolt with the team physio David MacDonald calling it quits this week. The Australian, it is learnt, has decided to head back home due to personal reasons. The youngster, a physiotherapy graduate from Macquarie University, joined the team in October 2017 with Sjoerd Marijne at the helm of coaching.
MacDonald’s resignation comes close on the heels of Hockey India‘s high performance director David John quitting his job. John left for Perth on Wednesday after his employers Sports Authority of India accepted his resignation last week.
Curiously, MacDonald was hired when John was the high performance director and quit soon after the latter did. In fact, both had their contracts renewed until September 30, 2021, recently. While they stayed back during the two-month break, it is surprising that they decided to leave India when sports activities have resumed at SAI, South Centre here, where both the men and women’s camps are currently underway.
The team resumed sporting activities last month and the role of the physiotherapist is crucial. A few players are under rehabilitation and most of them are in the process of increasing their training workload after a long pandemic-enforced break.
Adding to Hockey India’s cup of misery is the non-availability of the team’s analytical coach Chris Ciriello. The 34-year-old former Australian defender, who also puts the drag-flickers through the paces, went home during the break in June and is yet to return. Initially he had visa issues and then developed skin-related health problems for which he is undergoing treatment. It is not clear when Ciriello is returning to India.
Having lost more than four months due to the pandemic, the team can ill-afford further hiccups in their preparation for the Olympics. The absence of the three men can have a bearing on the team’s training.
According to sources, given the paucity of time, an Indian physiotherapist is likely to be hired and the process is on to rope in a Delhi-based physio with prior experience of working with national hockey players.