In August, Indian hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, 28, tested positive for Covid-19. Five of his teammates, too, were infected. Now recovered, Singh and the team have restarted their preparations for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Singh talks about his life in a bio-secure bubble and spending months away from family
What precautions are you taking now?
I tested positive for Covid-19 in August on arrival for the national coaching camp held by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bengaluru. Everyone was tested on arrival and kept in quarantine for 14 days… On the third day of arrival, I lost my sense of taste and smell… I immediately informed chief coach Graham Reid, who then informed SAI and Hockey India (HI) officials.
What was your routine like in self-isolation?
It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I am someone who enjoys the company of teammates. In the camp, we are always up to fun and banter off the field. We get together in one room, make tea, chat and play on the PlayStation.
During my isolation, it was challenging to just be in a room without doing anything… I watched Netflix, Amazon Prime and played PUBG. I also attended team video calls to discuss hockey or analyse a game.
What gloves and mask do you use?
I use a cloth mask that can be washed and reused. While travelling, I use regular use-and-throw gloves.
While interacting with people, how do you ensure your safety?
Apart from the pitch, we wear a mask everywhere. Even when we are walking from the hostel to the pitch, we wear a mask and follow social distancing….
How long did you go without seeing your family?
It has been about four months since the last break. Before that we had a six-week break when we met our families. However, I miss seeing my fiancée. It has been more than 10 months since I last visited her. She lives in Malaysia… We are communicating virtually.
What precautions do you take while travelling?
My only recent travel was going from Bengaluru to Jalandhar and back. I wore masks, face shield, gloves and also carried a hand sanitiser.
How much time do you spend in front of a screen?
During isolation, I spent hours… That was the only pastime I had.
How do you keep your mind off the pandemic?
Since I am now back to training, my focus has shifted to hockey. We have two sessions a day and team meetings or one-on-one meetings with the chief coach. The day flies by without us realising it.
What is the first thing you want to do in a Covid-free world?
Play hockey in front of a packed stadium.