Interview with Indian women's hockey captain Ritu Rani: "We need to work on penalty corners"
Ritu Rani’s ‘cool as a cucumber’ approach has been a big plus for the Indian women’s hockey team over the years. The 23-year-old Indian skipper invariably leads from the front and controls the midfield with authority. Ritu, who spearheaded the country’s hockey eves to glory in the Hockey World League Round 2 Event in New Delhi, is employed with Haryana Police. The experienced midfielder, who played her 200th international against Poland in the final, spoke on a range of issues concerning hockey in an exclusive interview.
Q How do you assess India’s win in the Hockey World League Round 2 Event in New Delhi?
We played solid hockey throughout the tournament and importantly we played as a unit. The girls have worked hard in the camp that took place before the tournament and all our hard work have paid off.
Q India scored a whopping 39 goals in six games and conceded only one goal – that too in the final.
Our forwards performed well in every game and it was not a case of one or two players scoring – many girls got goals which augur well for the future. Of course, we created many scoring opportunities and also missed many as well. Our defence handled all the opposition pressure quite well and goalkeeper Savita did a good job of not conceding a single goal going into the final.
Q India’s star striker Rani Rampal did not seem to be at her best during the tournament. Your thoughts.
As you know Rani has been having a tough time with injuries. She first sustained a shoulder injury long back and then had to drop out of our tour to Spain owing to a back injury and hit the rehab program. Rani is a vital player for us and I thought she had a decent run in the World League in New Delhi.
Q Vandana Katariya has been the biggest find of the tournament. Your thoughts.
Vandana is a talented forward and has done well for us in the World League. She is very fit and I hope she continues in the same manner in future as well.
Q You played your 200th international during the final against Poland. How many internationals do you think you will end up playing when you call its quits?
(Grins) Don’t know but for sure I will like to play for the country for many years to come.
Q India had an easy run in the tournament, but do you think Poland gave us a scare in the first half of the final?
Look, we were way too good for all other teams, including Poland in the final, a team whom we beat 2-0 in the league phase. Poland only defended well initially but gradually we took control and carried the day.
Q Penalty corner conversion must be a concern area for India.
I don’t see it as a concern, but yes, there is room for improvement. We need to convert more short corners than we had achieved in the World League. It’s as simple as that.
Q Indian women’s hockey team last played in the Olympics in Moscow in 1980. How important is an Olympic berth for the future of the sport in the country?
It is very important for us to qualify for the Olympics as playing on the big stage helps to improve as you end up playing top teams regularly. We will train hard at our upcoming camp and hopefully qualify for the Olympics.