Indian women’s Hockey Team won the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2017 and qualified for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in England. Here’s a look at the team which made it possible for India to get back their title of Continental Champions after 13 years.
1. Rani Rampal (Captain)
Rani Rampal who belongs to the Shahbad Markanda in the Kurukshetra District of Haryana was the youngest player at the age of 15 to play in National Team which participated in 2010 World Cup. Rani started playing field hockey in 2003 at the Shahbad Hockey Academy under a Dronocharya Awardee coach Baldev Singh.
Rampal’s family struggled to make ends meet and could not afford to buy her favoured hockey stick, but eventually, they found a way to support her dreams. She was given monetary and non-monetary support by Go Sportsfoundation, a non-governmental sports organization once she started her professional career.
In the world cup, she scored a total of six goals which earned India 9th position in the Women’s World Hockey Ranking. She was conferred “Best Young Player of the Tournament” award for being the top field goal scorer in the tournament. Rani was awarded the title of “Top Goal Scorer” and “Young Player of the Tournament” in the Champion’s Challenge Tournament held in Kazan, Russia in June 2009.
She played a major role in winning a silver medal in Asia Cup held in 2009. She is the only Indian to be nominated in the International Federation of Hockey (FIH) Women’s Young Player of the Year Award, 2010. She was also adjudged as the “Player of the Tournament” in 2013 Junior World Cup. She has also achieved FICCI Comeback of the Year Award, 2014.
She led the Indian Women’s Hockey Team in the Ninth Asia Cup, 2017 held in Kakamigahara, Gifu, Japan. She plays as a Forward in the team. She scored three goals in the tournament, twice in the opening match of Pool A against Singapore and then once against China in the final match against China. Rani scored the winning penalty which sealed India’s win in the final. She scored twice in the penalty shootout.
2. Savita Punia (Vice-Captain, Goal-Keeper)
Punia was born in Jodhkan village of Sirsa, Haryana. She was encouraged to play field hockey as a sport by her grandfather Mahinder Singh. Inspired by her grandfather, she joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Hisar.
She was coached by Sunder Singh Kharab during her early years. Being from a State that is known to have a conservative attitude towards women she had to face many barriers in order to achieve her dream. She first represented India at the age of 17 and qualified for the National Team in 2007.
In 2009, she was a part of Indian Hockey Team for the Junior Asia Cup. She has played for the country in more than 100 games at the international level and she has 121 International caps to her credit for her country. In 2015 Savita was awarded Rs 1 lakh for her selfless contribution to the team which helped the Indian Women’s Team to qualify for the Rio Olympics, 2016.
She was awarded the Baljit Singh Goalkeeper of the Year Award at the Hockey India Annual Awards, 2015. In an earlier interview this year with Sportskeeda the Vice-captain claimed that she still has to borrow money from her parents for her daily needs because she did not get a job promised by the Haryana Government under the “Medal Lao, Naukri Pao” scheme.
In the ninth Asia Cup 2017, she held the position of Vice–Captain of the Indian Team and she was also the Goalkeeper for the team. She ensured that in their total of 6 matches in the tournament, India ended up conceding just five goals. Savita won the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award in the tournament for her spectacular performance.
3. Sushila Chanu Pukhramban
Pukhramban who plays as a halfback for the team hails from Manipur. She started playing hockey at the age of 11 and was soon selected for the National Camp.
Chanu led the junior women’s hockey team to a bronze medal finish at the Women’s Hockey Junior World Cup held at Monchengladbach in the year 2013. She then made her debut in the senior national team that won the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon. She was also given the responsibility of leading the team in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
4. Navneet Kaur
Kaur plays the position of forward for the team. Belonging from Haryana, she was previously the part of the Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup team that won bronze in Germany.
Navneet netted four goals in the tournament, her first two goals were in the opening match of Pool A against Singapore and then she again scored spectacular two goals for India against Kazakhstan helping India register a 7-1 win in the quarterfinals.
5. Navjot Kaur
Navjot Kaur who belongs to Kurukshetra, Haryana is one of the veterans of Indian Women’s Hockey Team. She has played over 100 international matches for the country. She has acquired 108 international caps.
A product of Baldev Singh Academy in Shahbad, she made her international debut in 2012 in a series against New Zealand in Napier. Before that, she has showcased her talent in the Junior Asia Cup and International Under-21 tournament in the Netherlands where India acquired the third position.
She was part of the team that excelled at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals 2015 taking India to the doorsteps of the Olympics. She also featured in the 17th Asian Games, 2016 Rio Olympics, and 4th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and was also part of India’s successful campaign at the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 in Canada.
In the Asia Cup 2017, Kaur’s name was consistently in news because she netted five goals for the country. Kaur playing forward for the country scored twice against Singapore, netted two goals against China one in the Qualifier Pool A match and another in the finals and also scored one goal against Japan in Semi-Finals.
Sonika played a forward for the team in the Asia Cup, 2017. She initiated her hockey career in 2008 from D.A.V Public School, Hisar, Haryana. She later joined SAI and started practising there to achieve her dream of playing in the Indian National Team. She led the junior hockey team in the Junior Women’s Hockey Championship held in Spain.
7. Rajani Etimarpu
Etimarpu who hails from Andhra Pradesh shares the goalkeeping duties with Savita Punia in the Asia Cup, 2017. The player has successfully earned 50 international caps. She took her initial training in Tirupati under coach Ismail and then joined SAI centre in Hyderabad. She is employed by the Indian Railways as a ticket collector in Mumbai.
8. Deep Grace Ekka
Ekka from Odisha plays at the position of a Defender in the team. She made her international debut in the four-nation tournament in Argentina in 2011. She was a part of the Indian team that made history by winning the bronze medal for
the first time in Women`s Junior Hockey World Cup at Monchengladbach in Germany on July 4, 2013. She was also the part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal in the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup in 2013. She was a part of the senior Indian Team that won the Bronze medal in the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2013. She has received various cash awards and facilitation from the Odisha government for her participation and contribution towards the victory of the country. She netted three goals for the team in the Asia Cup, 2017. She scored one goal against Singapore in the opening match of the Pool A. Then, she converted two penalty corners into goals against Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.
9. Sunita Lakra
Sunita Lakra who hails from Odisha made her international debut in the year 2009. She has often been cited as the backbone of the team and has been a part of the important tournaments like 17th Asian Games.
As a defender in the team, Lakra has been an asset to the team throughout her career. In the tournament, Lakra saved the crucial penalty from China which ensured India’s lead in the game and contributed towards India’s goal of winning the Gold at Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2017.
10. Suman Devi Thoudam
Thoudam hails from Imphal East and plays Defender for the team. She has been trained in the South East Youth Organisation in her initial years. She was felicitated by the organization for contributing towards India’s win in the U-18 World Youth Hockey Tournament held in Netherlands.
Earlier, she has taken part in many Inter School tournaments in Delhi and Amritsar. She contributed in the Asia Cup, 2017 by building up a good defence for team India due to which the country conceded only 5 goals in the 6 match tournament.
11. Gurjit Kaur
Gurjit Kaur, the defender and drag flicker in the team hails from Punjab and contributes to a rich tradition of Hockey players from her State. She is appointed as a clerk in the North Central Railway Zone in Allahabad. In her earlier days, she has been trained in Hockey under the international player Pushpa Srivastava.
The Jalandhar girl started her performance in the tournament with a single goal against Singapore but her performance improved as the tournament progressed. She continued scoring goals against China and Japan, but in the match against Kazakhstan, he was in her best form when she scored hat-trick through penalty corners. She was adjudged the tournament’s third-highest goal scorer by netting eight goals.
12. Nikki Pradhan
Pradhan was the first woman hockey player from Jharkhand who represented India in the Olympics. She was a member of the 16 member team that represented India in the Rio Olympics which participated in the women’s hockey in Olympics after 36 years. In the Asia Cup, 2017 the match against Japan was an important milestone for the midfielder as this was her 50th International match for the country.
13. Namita Toppo
Toppo from Odisha is a product of Sports Hostel, Panposh, Rourkela, Odisha. She made her international debut in the FIH Champions Challenge 1 held in Dublin. She played her 50th International match at the 20th Commonwealth Games in 2014 against South Africa. She was felicitated with the Asunta Lakra Award for Upcoming Player of the Year 2014 (Women Under-21) and a purse of Rs 10 lakh by Hockey India in its annual award function at New Delhi on March 28, 2015. On July 26, 2016, she was provided with an incentive of Rs 10 lakh by the Odisha Mining Corporation for participation in Rio Olympic Games.
Monica is an Indian Midfielder who hails from Haryana. She also represented India in the 2014 Asian Games and is currently employed with the Railways. Monica scored the crucial goal for the country in the finals against China in the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2017.
15. Lilima Minz
Minz is a hockey player who played midfielder in the tournament. She belongs to Odisha and is also a product of Sports Hostel, Rourkela, Odisha. She has 74 International
caps to her credit. She contributed towards India’s win in Girls U-18 Asia Cup Hockey Championship in 2011. She was also a part of the Indian team that won bronze medal for the first time in the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup, 2013. She netted a goal for the country in the finals against China in the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2017 at a crucial moment.
16. Neha Goyal
Goyal hails from Sonepat, Haryana who has fought against all financial obstacles to achieve her dream of playing in the Indian National Team. She has led the Junior hockey team of her state in various tournaments and won several of them.
She made her debut in the Senior Indian National Team in 2014 and played her first match FIH Champions Challenge in Glasgow. The midfielder netted one goal for the country in the Asia Cup, 2017 against China in the second match of Pool A.
17. Vandana Katariya
Katariya hails from Uttarakhand and plays as a forward for the team. She made her Junior International debut in 2006 and her debut in the senior debut in 2010. She contributed towards India’s bronze medal win in the Junior Women’s World Cup, 2013. In the same tournament, her five goals made her the third highest goal scorer of the tournament. She won her 100th International cap while playing against Canada in 2014 Commonwealth Games. In the Asia Cup, 2017 Kataria netted one goal against Malaysia to ensure India’s third consecutive win in the Pool A match.
The forward netted two goals in the Asia Cup, 2017. One in the first Pool A match against Singapore and another in the semi-final match against the defending champion Japan. She has also been selected for the Junior Women’s National Camp which is being held at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru.
Featured Image Credit: The Indian Express