The Indian women’s Hockey team returned home after a successful campaign at the Hockey World League (HWL) semis. The Indian team kept their Olympics hopes alive by finishing 5th at the tournament.
The Indian team failed to earn a place in the top 3 of the HWL semis, which would have guranteed them a place in the Rio Olympics. However, the Indian team can seal the Rio spot if the results of the other continental games go in their favour.
India had a very slim chance of qualifying for the Olympics before the HWL, but the Indian team came through when the chips were down after a horrific loss against the Netherlands.
The coach of the team, CR Kumar, congratulated the girls on their fine display at the HWL. He told the reporters at the airport that the players kept their cool in the crunch situations in the last tie against Japan. After seeing how the young players have performed in the campaign, the coach ensured that the future of the team is bright and in good hands.
“The future of women’s hockey in India is very bright”
As reported by the Hockey India, he said, “The last two games were very crucial for us and the girls kept their cool despite the huge expectations and pressure on them. The younger players especially played really well and I can confidently say that the future for women hockey in India is very bright.”
The Indian team custodian, Savita Punia was also seen talking to the reporters at the airport. She performed splendidly in the last two matches to help the team to finish 5th. In the match against Italy, it was her heroics in the penalty shoot-out, saving the last shot in the sudden death which secured the 5th/6th playoff match against Japan. She praised the team for defending their narrow lead in the crunch tie against Japan and thus, almost securing a place for the upcoming Olympics.
She admitted that it would be a dream come true to qualify for Rio as The Hockey India reported, “During the successive penalty corners in the last quarter, it was the effort of the entire team which helped in defending our lead. I think everyone was aware that we had to safegaurd the sole goal we scored and we did it beautifully. If we qualify for Rio, it will be a dream come true.”
The star forward of the team, Ritu Rani ensured that the team will learn by the experience they gained by playing against the higher ranked teams and thus will improve their game for the Rio Olympics.
“We played against some of the higher ranking teams, which gave us insights on our shortcomings. We will work on them to improve our gameplay and be ready for our Olympics dream,” the captain was quoted by the Hockey India website.
The Indian team were given a rousing welcome, but the team has already set their sights on the Olympics saying they will begin their preparations for the multi-event Games in Rio soon.