Nikki Pradhan, who was named a member of the Indian women’s hockey squad which will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the upcoming Olympic Games, has become the first female hockey player from the state to participate in the international sporting event.
Hockey India on Tuesday announced the men and women squads for the upcoming games.
“It’s like dream come true for me,” the 23-year-old midfielder said, after she learnt that she had made the cut for Rio.
Hailing from Hesel village in Khunti district, Nikki started playing hockey when she was 13, but at that age, the sport was merely a means to while away time. Then, she got admission at the government girls high school, Bariatu, where the government runs the Bariatu Hockey Centre, a residential hockey centre. This centre, known as one of India’s best hockey coaching institutes for women, has produced more than 100 international hockey players and helped mould Nikki into the fine player that she is today.
“I used to get inspiration from my senior colleagues and started dreaming to become a big hockey player,” said Nikki, who participated in the 2011 Asia Cup in the under-18 category and the 2012 Asia Cup in the under-21 category.
Impressed with her performances, south-eastern railway of Ranchi division offered her a job in 2013. Since then, she plays for the railways.
The women’s team has qualified for the Olympics after 36 years, after it played in the 1980 Games in Moscow, when women’s hockey had been introduced for the first time. The squad will leave for Brazil on July 15 to prepare and train, before participating in the tournament starting August 5.
“I will put my all efforts to bring laurels for the country as well as the state,” the elated tribal girl told Hindustan Times.