Most of the members of the junior women’s hockey team, which won bronze at the World Cup, won’t get time to soak in the joy of scripting a new chapter in the history of Indian hockey.
The squad, which arrived here on Monday morning, has players who will be joining the senior camp for the Asia Cup, starting in Kuala Lumpur from in September 21. “The youngsters have shown the way, now it is the job of the seniors to move a step forward,” said coach, Narinder Saini.
The Asia Cup is the last qualifying event for the 2014 World Cup and it will also be the last chance for the senior team to win a ticket to the global meet as they had failed to win a berth during the preliminary qualification round in Rotterdam.
India’s star performer, Rani Rampal, is also a key member of the senior team. The bronze-medal performance, according to her, will act as a catalyst. “We should move up the ladder and cement our place in global events,” said Rani with an air of confidence.
At least seven players who were members of the under-18 team in 2011 have graduated to the under-21 team. “Since 2011, the girls have been training together and their understanding reflected in the overall performance in Germany,” said Saini.
India skipper Sushila Chanu said that though the team lost the first match, they bounced back. “It added to the players’ confidence.”
The biggest hurdle, according to her, was Spain. “It was a tough match but we overcame the challenge,” she said.
During the bronze-medal playoff with England, the team was focussed. “We gave our best in the match and didn’t wilt under pressure during the shoot-out,” said Sushila.
Navneet Kaur, who scored the winning goal during the shootout that sealed England’s fate, said she had never felt so nervous.
“I prayed to God to give me strength because the fear of losing had started to grip my mind,” she said. The Haryana player then took a deep breath and steeled herself. “With a positive frame of mind, I went ahead and conquered the field,” she said.
Apart from the shoot-out, Navneet was also instrumental in scoring team’s second goal against Spain (2 all).
It proved a turning point in the game which India won eventually.
Navneet took to hockey because of popularity of the discipline in her school in Shahbad, Haryana. She started playing competitive hockey in 2005 and soon made a mark in the school level competitions.
Recently, her overall performance also earned her a berth in the national team.