At first glance, Ritu Nagpal, Sonali Bagla, Milan Preet, Yashdeep Kaur, Parveen, Mera, Sandeep Kaur and Pooja Dalia appear to be just another bunch of young unassuming Haryanvi women. But there is nothing unassuming about the dream they nurture.
These students of Shah Satnam Ji Girls’ School and College, Sirsa, recently represented India at the VIII World Roller Hockey Championship in Chile. The tournament was held between September 30 and October 7.
The Indian team was placed 15th in the championship that drew 16 countries. In the group stage, they lost to Portugal, France and Italy.
Their performance in South America may not be some thing to write home about but their very presence in Chile is a tremendous achievement. For the Sirsa girls cracked into the Indian side without any formal coaching at all.
“When we picked up skating we didn't even know it was a competitive sport and there were tournaments. We started it for fun and gradually developed to compete at the international level,” says Ritu, 23, a senior skater.
The story began seven years ago, when Sonia Yadav became the first girl from the school to don Indian colours at the 1999 Asian Championship in China. Nobody thought that from just one in the squad, the institute's presence would grow to eight in the national team for the Chile meet.
“Our first attempt to skate was on the road. At that time, we had no skating rink in the school,” says Ritu.