When other children of her age were getting their first, serious academic lessons in the classrooms, 10-year-old Poonam had decided to make hockey her passion for life. The early start seems to have worked for the girl, who has taken some big strides after beginning with the sport five years ago: besides having won medals at different national level tournaments, including the bronze at the Hockey India’s (HI) national sub-junior (under-17) girls’ tournament held in Pune a couple of months ago, this trainee of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy (CHA) is also a member of the India junior (under-21) camp for the last nine months.
“The best thing about being in the national camp is that, besides undergoing some high quality training, one also gets the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with more experienced players and learning new skills. The same things can help me in breaking into the Indian side early,” says Poonam, who studies in class 10th at Government Girls Model Senior Secondary School (GGMSSS), Sector 18, and hails from Kemri village situated in Hisar district of Haryana.
On what prompted her to join hockey, Poonam recalls, “A group of senior girls at the school in my village used to play hockey daily after the school hours. Seeing them compete, I also fell in love with the sport.
Later, on the advice of one of those girls, I started practising hockey under the guidance of the physical education teacher of the school and represented Haryana in the 2010 National School Games.”
In 2011, Poonam, who plays as a forward, was selected to the Chandigarh Hockey Academy through the selection trials conducted by academy coaches in Hisar. The next year, Poonam not only helped GGMSSS-18 win the under-14 girls’ section in the UT inter-school tournament, but also claimed her first national medal, the team silver, in the all-India under-15 girls’ hockey meet, organised by Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) in Bassi Pathana, Punjab.
“The last year was the most fruitful in terms of achievements. While our school team again won the gold in the inter-school event, we also claimed the top honour in the IHF’s under-15 girls’ hockey championship.
Besides, we also finished fourth in Hockey India’s national sub-junior tournament, and on the basis of my performance in this event I was selected to the Indian junior camp last December,” added Poonam.
To whom does she give the credit of success?
“Whatever I have achieved so far is all due to the support and blessings of my parents. They have never stopped me from playing hockey, and my dream is to make them proud by winning a medal for India at Olympics,” says Poonam, whose father Ramesh Kumar is a farmer, while mother Dharma Devi is a housewife.