Munmuni Das, all of just 16, is one of the most eye-catching players in the ongoing Khelo India U-21 Women’s Hockey League. Playing for the for the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Center, Munmuni Das has scored three goals in four matches, but what has stood out is her talent.
Hailing from the Tinsukia district of Assam, Munmuni Das is a livewire in the matches. The young ace dedicates all her achievements to her late father Kaliya Das who supported the hockey player during her formitive years.
“I started playing hockey back in 2015 looking at the senior boys in school. Since then, I have had this passion to play the sport. However, people in my village in Assam never supported hockey or any sport in particular. Being a girl, it was also next to impossible to pursue the sport. However, I started playing in some way and after some months, went on to play in the inter-state from where I earned my selection to be a part of the Sports Authority of India Center in Kokrajhar in 2017,” Munmuni said.
Munmuni Das recalled the struggles of her late father, who was a salesman, but never let his profession interfere in the way of his daughter's dreams.
“My dad, who passed away a year back, used to support me a lot. I couldn’t afford to even buy a hockey stick but papa used to arrange it. He was a salesman. It was difficult for him to support me, my mother and my sister for our education, family as well as my playing needs. But he never hesitated to help me. I will never ever forget his role in helping me be where I am today,” she added.
Munmuni Das' three goals so far have been field goals and her contribution to the team has been prominent since the very first match of the competition. Commenting on the united spirit of the team, she said:
“I got a chance to give a trial at the Naval Tata Odisha in 2019 and I am here since then. Everyone in our team is from different States. Having said that, we have a very nice team bonding, we keep motivating each other during the matches and our combination is very good. We support each other whenever there are mistakes too. We don’t have any discrimination inside our hostel too, be it for religious or other issues. We are very friendly and our coaches behave like our families. We celebrate festivals of all faith in our academy too.”
Munmuni Das and Ashima Rout - a partnerhsip to look for
Munmuni Das and Ashima Rout, another key player of the team who has scored four goals so far, make the Naval Tata Odisha team’s matches all the more beautiful. The duo have forged a breath-taking partnership in the forward line and work well in tandem.
“Ashima is like my sister. Whenever there are mistakes, we discuss about it after the match and are always looking forward to strengthening ourselves before the next match. We are just concerned on making our team win,” Munmuni Das spoke about Ashima.
From being the only girl from her village to play hockey and returning home late in the night through desolate jungles after cycling for almost six kilometers, Munmuni Das has come a long way. There is now only one aim she is working towards.
“My papa’s dream is to see me as an Olympian. To achieve that, I want to become as big a player as possible and want to give my 100 percent every time in the ground,” Munmuni Das concluded.