2017 was a year to remember for Indian Hockey, winning Asia Cup in both men’s & women’s category proved that we are on the right path & if given the full support both teams can do wonders in the upcoming tournaments.
With major events lined up this year (Commonwealth Games, Asian Games & the World Cup), it is the best time for Indian women’s hockey team to prove their metal to the world.
With the head coach Harendra Singh, team is looking quite confident.
“Until I don’t think of Mt Everest, I won’t be able to climb Kanchenjunga.” That’s how Singh began his new job, after successfully guiding India’s junior men’s team to a World Cup victory last year.
Many sports critics would not have considered India as a major contender for Asia Cup 2017, with China, Japan & Korea in the tournament, even a top 4 finish would have been good for the Indian team.
Rani Rampal led Indian women’s hockey team from front to win Asian Cup 2017 after beating China by 5-4 in the tense shoot out.
India gained a World Cup ticket after South Africa’s victory in the African Cup of Nations opened up an extra slot. But by winning the Asia Cup, India will now enter the World Cup next year as champions of the Asian continent.
The star player of this tournament was the goalkeeper Savita Punia, who produced a stunning save in the tense shootout to make sure India remained unbeaten in this tournament.
Another bright prospect was Gurjit kaur who smashed eight goals to be the top goal scorer in the tournament.
Also, the Indian women’s hockey team broke a 13 year old wait to win the Asia Cup. India last won this title in 2004, when they beat Japan by 1-0 in Delhi.
History of Indian women’s hockey team:
In the 1974, Indian team finished 4th in the world cup played at Mandelieu.
India gave its best performance in the Olympic Games, when they finished 4th in the 1980 Moscow summer olympics.
The women’s hockey was introduced first time from the 1980 Moscow summer olympics.
India won Gold medal in the 1982 Asian Games held at New Delhi.
The Suraj Lata Devi led team won the Gold medal at 2002 Commonwealth Games held at Manchester beating the English team in the final.
After the win at 2002 Commonwealth Games,the event has served as the inspiration for the 2007 Bollywood film about women’s hockey team, ”Chak de India”.
India has also won a silver medal at Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
The Suraj Lata Devi led team won the Afro-Asian cup in 2003 and also won the hockey Asia cup in 2004.
India has won a silver medal in the 2009 Asia Cup.Rani Rampal was a star player from India in that tournament.
Ritu Rani led team has finished at 3rd in the women’s hockey Asia Cup at kaula Lampur in 2013.
In 2014, Incheon Asian Games, India stunned Japan by 2-1 to clinch the bronze medal. It was their third bronze medal in the Asian Games.
India has also won a silver medal in Asian Games in 1998.
In 2014-15, Ritu Rani led team topped the FIH world hockey league and qualified for the world hockey league semifinals where they finished fifth, beating higher ranked Japan in the classification match.
Also, the Indian women’s hockey team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic for the first time since the 1980 summer olympics, ending the wait of 36 years where they finished 6th.
Achivements of the women’s hockey players:
Rani Rampal was named as a young player of the tournament award at the age of 15 for her performance in 2010 FIH hockey world cup.
She was included in the FIH women’s All Star Team of 2010. The former Indian team captain was included in the All Star Team of Asian Hockey Federation based on her performance in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.
Also, she adjudged the player of the tournament in the 2013 Junior world cup.
Suraj Lata Devi, Ritu Rani, Helen Mary, Sunita Puri are some of the names who received the Arjuna Award.
In 2008 women’s hockey Olympic qualifier, Rani Devi received the most promising young player of the tournament award.
During the 2002 Hockey champions challenge I, Jyoti Sunita Kullu received the top scorer award for five goals.
Current scenerio for the Indian women’s hockey team:
At this time,
the women’s hockey team captain is Sushila Chanu.
The coach of the team is Harendra Singh.
Harendra Singh has also helped the Indian Junior men’s team to win the world cup title in 2016.
After winning the Asia cup in 2017, India has gained two places in the ranking table and are now at 10.
Striker Rani Rampal, Goalkeeper Savita Punia, Forwards Navjot kaur and Navneet kaur, Drag flicker Gurjit kaur, Captain Sushila Chanu are the key players for Indian women’s hockey team.
In 2018, 3 major competitions-the world Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games are lined up for the Indian women’s hockey team.
After having a disappointing performance in the world hockey league semifinals, where they have finished eighth out of ten, the Asia cup win will boost their confidence a lot.
Indian coach Harendra singh feels that if India continue playing like this, world cup is not far from them.
There is still very much hard work needed to be done to compete with the best teams in the world.