Deepika Thakur: 10 things to know about India's talented hockey defender
Deepika Thakur is an indispensable member of the Indian women's hockey team, and is considered to be a dangerous defender who always gives her two hundred percent on the field and ensures the opposition does not succeed in scoring goals. She will be representing the Indian eves at the Rio Olympics, a tournament for which the team qualified after 36 long years.
Let us now take a look at 10 things about the defender-
#1 Deepika Thakur was born on 7 February, 1987 in Yamunanagar, Haryana. The Vice-Captain of the Indian wormen’s hockey team had to go against the wishes of her conservative parents to play hockey, and is now the bread winner of the family. Born in a state that is known to marry off girls at a young age, she has defied all odds to represent the country in the sport of Hockey. She is also an employee with the Indian Railways.
#2 She was supposed to get married last October, but she put her marriage plans on hold as the women’s team qualified for the Rio Olympics, and now plans of getting married only after the tournament is over, as she hopes to make the country proud by winning a medal at the Games. Thakur’s father died in 2013 and she has an ailing mother whose only wish is to see her daughter getting married.
“So, I decided to go for marriage after last year’s Asian Games. But as we won a medal there, I requested my mother to give me a few more months till the Olympic qualifiers. And now, as we have almost achieved it, so there is no question of getting married before August 2016. Now my mother too wants that I should focus on my game.”
#3 The 29-year-old is one of the most experienced players in the side and is a two-time World Cupper as she has represented India the World Cup in 2006 and 2010.
#4 She was also an integral member of the team that played in the Asian Games Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014.
#5 Deepika was named as the captain of the Indian team for the Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand in April this year, in the absence of regular captain Ritu Rani. She led from the front and helped her teammates both on the field and off it by giving them words of advice and motivating them to do their best. The team finished 6th in the tournament.
#6 She was awarded with the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year award in 2016 at the annual hockey awards function that felicitates the most successful and inspiring hockey players of the year. She took home a prize money of Rs. 25 lakhs as part of the award. The entire women’s hockey team was praised and rewarded at the event, for qualifying for the Rio Olympics after 36 years.
“It has been the combined effort of all. Being recognised is motivation for us and makes us work harder. The Olympic Games are coming up and we have to work hard,”
#7 She gave an inspiring performance and helped her team secure a fifth place finish at the Hockey World League in Belgium, which helped the Indian eves qualify for the Summer Olympics, and they will be travelling to Rio to represent the country with hopes to have a podium finish at the event.
#8 She had scored the winning goal against a higher-ranked Japan in the Hawke’s Bay Cup as the score was locked at 2-2. She was very satisfied to score the match-winner and helped India avoid finishing last in the tournament.
#9 She has been the vice-captain of the Indian side since the mid-2014’s and always helps junior players in times of need, and inspires them to give their best on the field by always selflessly playing for the benefit of the team. She is considered to be one of the cornerstones in India’s defence, and makes life difficult for the opposition’s strikers as she goes about foiling their attempts to score goals at will.
“I always strive to give my hundred percent for my team irrespective of whether I’m the vice-captain or just a team member. The idea is to take all team members into confidence and play as a unit. There is no such thing as senior or junior players – all are same and they all fight for the country.”
#10 She is one of the biggest supporters for a tournament similar to Hockey India League for women, so that the Indian eves can get more opportunities to display their skills on the field and gain as much experience as they can, in order to give tough competition to the world’s elite in the sport at major tournaments.
She believes it will also help to find out rare gems who could represent the national team and make India a superpower in the world of women’s hockey.
“At the moment there are not too many girls playing hockey save for a few select pockets. If you take a close look, barring Haryana, Punjab, Railways, Odisha, Jharkhand and MP, players do emerge from other areas but not in great numbers. A women’s HIL could help widen the player net and provide a proper supply line to the national team.”