Year-in-review: Indian Women’s Team adapted to a new avatar of being aggressive

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New Delhi, 30 December 2019: Having shed their underdog image, the Indian Women’s Team embraced the year 2019 with a singular vision to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after narrowing missing the ticket at the 2018 Asian Games where they settled for a Silver. The loss in the Final to Japan only made the women’s team emerge stronger and aggressive in their matches to come in 2019. Their opening Tour of the season in Spain saw them clinch confidence-boosting wins against the FIH Women’s World Cup 2018 Silver Medallists Ireland and Bronze Medallists Spain.

A reassuring start to the season meant the women’s team began to believe that they can beat higher ranked teams. “I think the fact that many people never believed that we were capable of beating top teams did affect us. Some way, this was affecting the team’s morale too but I think this tour to Spain set off a new beginning for Indian Women’s Team where we knew we can create historic results,” stated Rani, skipper of the Indian team looking back at 2019.

In the following months, the team had a successful outing in Malaysia — clinching the tour with four wins and a draw. They also won the Tour to Korea with two wins and a loss. The team then avenged their loss to Japan in the 2018 Asian Games as they defeated the home team at the important FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan. This helped the team qualify for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held in Bhubaneswar in November. “I believe the team has grown immensely both mentally and physically this year. Our defeats only made us stronger and we wanted to adapt to the aggressive, attacking game more like how the Dutch women play. We wanted to showcase that winning attitude, which we lacked earlier. I think improving our fitness was a big plus point that made a huge difference to our attitude,” explained Rani.

While the team beat China and Japan, drew with Australia in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Test Event, they won a match, drew three and lost a match against Rio Olympics Gold Medallist Great Britain during their tour to England in September 2019.

The turning point of 2019 was in Bhubaneswar where the women’s team played out a success FIH Olympic Qualifiers against USA. “It was everything we had trained for and we didn’t give ourselves any other option but to win. The atmosphere was quite incredible and also nervy as many of us had not experienced the home crowd. Now that we have qualified, next year will be all about taking our game to the next level with further improved fitness because the playing conditions in Tokyo will be quite challenging. While making the top four in the Olympics is a target, we also want to win the Asian Champions Trophy which is before the Olympics. This will give us a good momentum for Tokyo,” Rani concluded wishing all the hockey fans a very Happy New Year.

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