MRF Pace Foundation keeps itself relevant through innovation

Amidst the pandemic, the MRF Pace Foundation has found ways to guide its trainees virtually and keep them in “good physical condition.”

Glenn McGrath at a training session at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chetpet, Chennai, in June, 2019. Apart from those in the main teams, eight bowlers from the Foundation have travelled to the IPL in UAE as net bowlers.   -  R. Ravindran

There are times when you have to innovate and create to find answers to vexing questions.

The MRF Pace Foundation had to find similar solutions after the outbreak of COVID-19. The last batch of trainees were here from February end till the last week of March. By then COVID had struck the country, the Government announced ‘lockdown’ and the Foundation had to send the boys to their respective homes in different States.

However, head coach M. Senthilnathan, along with MRF’s Director of coaching, the legendary Glenn McGrath, came up with plans to keep the boys in shape. They found out what equipment the trainees had at home such as the theraband or the dumbbells and gave the boys specific routines.

Senthilnathan told Sportstar, “The idea was to keep the boys fresh and hungry and in good physical condition.”

In constant touch

They would monitor the boys through videos and change their routines every week. Push-ups and a set of exercises for developing their core strength were also included. And if the boys had a longish corridor in their houses, they would be asked to bowl with a shortened run-up and their bowling action would be analysed through videos.

Senthil said, “We wanted to keep their motor speed going.”

So the Foundation was in constant touch with the boys.

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Around July, when the Government relaxed some of the rules and the players were permitted to practise alone or with a trainer, the pacemen constantly sent videos of their bowling. Senthil said, “We would have discussions in Zoom about how their bowling looked and how it could be improved further. And they also worked on their cardio, speed and endurance following the routines we gave them.”

Net bowlers in UAE

The Foundation has a MoU with Cricket Australia for the exchange of cricketers but this could not happen this year because of COVID. And McGrath, who visits MRF thrice a year to coach the boys, has been unable to travel in 2020 because of the pandemic.

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Every year the Pace Foundation is active till September after which the boys travel to their States as the various domestic competitions get underway. This year is different. Senthil said, “Apart from those in the main side, eight of of our bowlers have travelled to the IPL in UAE as net bowlers. We are monitoring them as well as they send us the videos.”

Senthil hopes by the time MRF facility in Chennai reopens early next year, a vaccine would be available to counter COVID. “We do not want to put the boys under any risk.”

But then, during difficult times, the MRF Pace Foundation has managed to keep itself relevant.

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