India’s success against top-ranked nations this year has instilled a new self-belief and helped the women’s hockey team shed its underdog tag, feels skipper Rani Rampal.
Indian women’s hockey team won a historic silver at the 18th Asian Games and another silver at the Asian Champions Trophy this year. They also finished at the quarterfinals at the World Cup in London and ended at the fourth place at the Commonwealth Games.
“Though we would have preferred to win ga old medal at the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang as well as the Asian Champions Trophy, I believe overall, we had a good outing in 2018,” Rani said.
#HI Indian Women’s Hockey Team do not fear top-ranked teams anymore, says team Skipper Rani New Delhi, 28 December 2018: Looking back at the year 2018 that saw Indian Women’s Hockey Team win a historic Silver Medal at the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palemb… https://t.co/Gw39MNpHku
— World Hockey News (@WorldHockeyNews) December 29, 2018
“Beating England 2-1 at the Commonwealth Games, a 1-1 draw against them at their home turf during the Women’s World Cup in London and a 0-1 loss to Australia in the semi-final at Gold Coast has given the team tremendous confidence and self-belief.”
“We can give top teams a run for their money in big-ticket tournaments. We are no longer considered an underdog team by our opponents and that’s our biggest takeaway from 2018.”
Indian Women’s Hockey achievements this year
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) December 29, 2018
India’s quarter-final finish at the women’s World Cup for the first time in four decades has spurred their world ranking to a career-best world no.9 and Rani feels the team has great potential to improve further in future events.
“The brighter side of 2018 was our U-18 team doing well at the Youth Olympic Games where they won a silver medal. With the fresh talent coming into the core group, the seniors too want to improve their individual performance to stay relevant to the team,” she said.
“There is healthy competition within the core group and the pool of players is bigger now with a good mix of youngsters and seniors who have played together for more than four years.”
“I’m quite confident if we continue to improve at the pace we are at this moment, we stand a good chance of climbing up the World Ranking further.”
Coaching Camps led to a major improvement
She also said that working with an elite hockey star like Glenn Turner of Australia who was invited by Hockey India to conduct a special camp for forwards has helped the team tremendously.
“In December, we had a special coaching camp for strikers where we worked under Australian great Glenn Turner. He gave critical inputs after watching us play closely. Though he did not drastically change how we play, his detailing and inputs were extremely helpful in the positioning of forwards within the striking circle.”
“We had struggled in this area during our past events, missing scoring opportunities. Now when we return to the National Camp, we will further ensure what we learnt from him is implemented,” she said.
Speaking of the year ahead, Rani said the team’s ultimate goal will be to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We will be reporting to the National Camp in the first week of January and begin our preparations in this crucial Olympic cycle where we will be playing Olympic Qualifiers,” Rani concluded.
(Sources from IANS and PTI )
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