The Indian Women’s Hockey Team’s star players heaped praise on some of the new initiatives by Hockey India hailing it ‘the right time to pursue hockey’.
The Captain of the team, ace goalkeeper Savita puts things in perspective and said, “When we began playing hockey, there were so many uncertainties. There was not enough support for women’s hockey or for that matter for women taking up sport itself. But now so much has changed with the Federation announcing new initiatives right from the domestic circuit where recognition is guaranteed and automatically players get called-up for jobs with a good show in the National Championships.”
She further added that the recent announcement by Hockey India to introduce Inter Zonal Tournaments will be a ‘game changer’ for the sport. “There are so many talented players and if I have to talk about my home state Haryana, there are plenty of aspiring hockey players but not all of them get a chance to represent the state because the competition is tough to make the team but with the introduction of Intra Zonal tournaments, more kids may get a chance to play for the state which is a big honour. I believe this is the right time for young women to choose hockey as a career,” opined the goalie who led the Indian Team to a historic Bronze Medal in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Reflecting on Savita’s thoughts, charismatic forward Navneet Kaur said, “I wish all the wonderful women especially those involved in sports as athletes or as administrators a very Happy Women’s Day. Today, with many initiatives by Government through Khelo India and Hockey India introducing more domestic tournaments, which is being held on par with international standards, there is more scope for players to showcase their talent and make it big in the sport. As cliche as it may sound, dreams do come true and we must just work towards it.”
Vandana Katariya, Padma Shri Awardee and one of the most experienced forwards in the team with over 250 international caps, also expressed that women’s hockey is moving in the right direction. “It brings me great joy to see the number of talented young players coming up and pushing for a place in the national program. This goes to show that our recent achievements and the recognition that followed has encouraged more young women to take up hockey. With all that’s being done for the sport in the country, I feel like an Olympic Medal is not a distant dream anymore. We are steadily marching towards more success,” expressed an optimistic Vandana.
The Indian Women’s Team has been on an uphill climb in the current Olympic cycle. A historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympic Games has instilled confidence in the team for greater glory. They won the Bronze Medal in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year, followed by a big win against Spain to lift the maiden FIH Women’s Nations Cup that has earned them a place in the next season of the FIH Hockey Pro League. They also managed a third-place finish in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-2022 in only their first appearance in the prestigious league. The Indian Team is currently based in SAI Centre, Bengaluru preparing for the Asian Games in September.