The Indian national women’s hockey team registered a convincing 3-1 victory over Poland to win the FIH Hockey League Round 2. A key figure in that victory was forward Vandana Kataria.
Kataria came from a low-income family in Haridwar, and she picked up the game thanks to a playground near her house. It was there that Vandana met her first coach Krishna Kumar.
She then went on to represent Uttar Pradesh and turned professional soon. Her performances at the state level saw Kataria getting selected for the Under-16 national team, and she finally graduated to the first.
It was difficult for her to establish a name in the beginning, because her family was against the sport. But she stuck with it and now has become a stalwart of the national hockey team.
Kataria spoke to Sportskeeda about the HIL World League victory and the upcoming New Zealand tour.
Q. A big win, the Hockey World League Round 2. How does it feel?
It felt great, especially because we won it at home. It gives us more confidence in our own ability. The next round will be crucial, because a podium finish will help us qualify for the Olympics. We have the squad depth and am confident that we will be at par with the women’s team in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Q. Tell us more about your daily training routine.
Well, it’s simple during the entirety of the day I practice, be it at home or in the camp. However, the only down point is that I don’t get time to spend with the family.
Q. Do you think there is a difference, skill wise, between men’s and women’s hockey in India?
The men’s team have been doing well off late, thanks to the exposure they are getting, due to the Hockey India League (HIL). Even if we manage to get the same facilities, we will do as well.
Q. What is the next target for Vandana Kataria?
Immediate target for me is to play the 2016 Olympics and then aim to become the number 1 team in the country.
Q. Who are your favourite players?
Argentina legend Aymar and Deepika Thakur.
Q. Do you think there should be a professional league for women too?
Yes, it is very important that we do have a league. It will help in unearthing new talent, who would get an immediate chance to represent the National team. If you see the HIL, several of those players wouldn’t have made it to the National team for 4-5 years, if it wasn’t for the league.
It will also give us more exposure to the best players from the world, so that we can consistently perform at the International stage
Q. What advice would you like to give to the young and upcoming hockey players?
Don’t give up on your dream, having a short hockey career is equal to having a short life. Be proud of representing the Indian tri-colour.
Q. How was it to work under Neil Hawgood and Roelant Oltmans, after being coached by Indians earlier?
Neil Hawgood was really a great coach and gave us a lot of confidence to us. The results are there to show now.
Q. Could you update us on your injury worry?
My injury is fine and I have returned to normal practice. Thankfully it was not a fracture.
Q. What is the favourite moment of your hockey career so far?
It has to be when we won the bronze medal at the World Cup in Germany. My father was called by the media and he had tears in his eyes. So, making my father proud is the best moment of my hockey career.
ALSO READArticle Continues below
Q. What are your expectations from the New Zealand tour?
The objective is to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers and give our best in every game.