Field Hockey Canada > How Covid-19 is affecting Canadian national team athletes

Athletes around the country are adapting and finding positives within the uncertainty

Written By: Joshua Rey

The Covid-19 outbreak has greatly affected the sporting world, and field hockey in Canada is no exception. For national team athletes, it has been a challenge to adapt to the changing landscape. With games, training and even the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games postponed, players have been at home instead of on the pitch.

The men’s national team was supposed to be going to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer but they will have to wait another year. Oliver Schofield, a forward for Team Canada said the news was a shock for the team but was inevitable.

“I don’t think I really knew how to feel,” said Schofield. “I mean, it was sort of inevitable that it was gonna happen because of the state of everything else. Major leagues were postponing or cancelling anyway but at the end of the day it’s the right thing and it needed to happen.”

On March 22nd, Canada announced they would not send any athletes to the Olympics in Tokyo and a few days later, the games were postponed to July 23rd to August 8th, 2021.

Schofield and the rest of the team still have their mindset on the games in 2021. He’s been doing drills at home and going for runs and bike rides early in the morning while keeping a safe distance from others. He also has stayed connected with the team through group chats and has been video-calling his family in the UK. Schofield also said the whole situation has been weird for him.

“The way that we’re wired is to always be doing something and always be pushing ourselves to our limits,” said Schofield. “ And that’s been tough in isolation, but just trying to be productive as well and not just sitting around doing nothing.”

Kat Leahy, Oliver Scholfield and Alison Lee talk about the challenges in the new and changing environment. Photos: Yan Huckendubler

Kathleen Leahy is a defender for the women’s national team and  is isolated with two teammates. Considering the nation-wide facility closures, they have been doing bodyweight workouts to keep in shape during this time.

“We’re pretty lucky to be isolated where we are, we’re right on the beach on the water,” said Leahy. “So we have access to kayaks and we’ve been able to do some bike rides because we live in a pretty isolated place so we don’t see anyone on the rides.”

Not being able to see family during this time is an added challenge for Leahy.

“The hardest part I think is just not being allowed to go see people and [I miss] the physical contact and stuff with the friends and family,” said Leahy. “It’s really tough for me not to be able to go see my grandmother. I haven’t seen her since I left for Europe in February and It’s her birthday coming up. So it’s gonna be pretty tough not to be able to give her a hug but we all understand that it’s what’s best for everyone at the moment.” 

Leahy and teammate Alison Lee are also members of the indoor national team and were supposed to play in an Indoor World Cup qualifier last month but it got cancelled. Lee said the hardest part of this pandemic is how much it affects all facets of life, not just hockey.

“I’d have to say the hardest part about being in quarantine is the disruption of normal life,” said Lee. “Going to the grocery store, going to the gym, going to the mall, going over to a friends house for dinner, all the things that we are used to taking for granted in ‘normal’ life have been taken away and now we are having to create a new normal at home.”

With so much uncertainty swirling around when they will be back training and on the pitch, the athletes agree all they can do is try their best to stay fit, healthy and prepared.