A triumphant Indian women’s hockey team was welcomed with energetic greetings after the team clinched the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima. The Indian eves, who were unbeaten in the tournament, had defeated hosts Japan in the final to bag the trophy. They also won the Olympic qualifier spot in the process.
One player who will be particularly happy with her performances is one of the country’s most prolific goal scorers – Gurjit Kaur. Kaur had a monumental role to play in the tournament, having accounted for 11 of the 29 goals India scored. This included two in the all-important finals.
As many as 10 of Kaur’s goals came from short corners while another once was scored from the penalty spot. These numbers clearly demonstrate why Kaur is widely known as “India’s drag flick queen”. According to the 23-year old, her progress in the art of drag flick was an outcome of the senior national squad’s need for a penalty corner specialist.
“I was selected for the junior team. But my first tour was with the senior side. I didn’t know much about drag flicking at that time; but I tried to gain knowledge about it as our team needed an experienced drag flicker. I feel there is more to be learnt. I also have to work on my speed,” Kaur said.
Kaur also wants to help the junior girls with the drag flicking skills. “I am making the junior ones learn drag flick better. I enjoy teaching them the skills,” she said.
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Kaur has trained under the famous Dutch coach Toon Siepman. Toon has a distinction of mentoring such players like Pakistani great Sohail Abbas and Mink van der Weerden of Netherlands among many. Siepman helped evolve Kaur’s balance while teaching her the technique of generating power through the front-foot positioning.
“Toon was a great drag flicker during his time. I used to make minor errors which I wasn’t aware of and it was he (Toon) who helped me recognise my mistakes. He told me how to use my first foot, what could be the movement and how to use my hands swiftly so that the ball travels faster towards the net. He helped me improve a lot.”
Gurjit also shed light on why the team won the FIH series competition.
“We take all the team as same irrespective of their rankings, as any team which participates in an international event gives their best on the turf. We won the tournament because of the hard labour we put in. Had we taken them (opponents) lightly, maybe we could have lost due to overconfidence,” she informed.
Kaur very well knows that the team’s mission was far from over. “We have just completed one mission and the next one is on cards. We will face many strong teams in the qualifiers and will try to deliver our best once again. Our team is ready for the major challenge,” she said.
The Indian women’s team will comeback to Bengaluru’s national coaching camp at the SAI facility on July 15. The goalkeepers will return a little earlier on July 8 to take part in a special week-long camp.