As the Indian women's hockey team gear up to face Germany in their FIH Pro League matches, the team's core group reflected on the progress the team has made since the Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian team finished a commendable fourth at the Tokyo Olympics last year, equalling their best effort at the quadrennial event after losing a thriller to Great Britain 3-4 in the bronze medal playoff.
Indian players Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur, and Gurjit Kaur said the team's performance at the Tokyo Olympics lifted the profile of women’s hockey in India. It also contributed immensely as youngsters took up the sport in large numbers.
Speaking at a virtual media interaction, on the occasion of International Women's Day, midfielder Navjot Kaur said:
“There has certainly been a change in mindset since the Tokyo Olympics last year. Now, all parents want their children to play sports. Most of the parents believe that the future of their children will be better if they play sports along with focusing on their studies.”
Hockey has become more popular after Olympics: Vandana
Echoing similar sentiments, forward Vandana Katariya said she was amazed to see so many girls coming out to play the sport in her home town of Roshnabad in Uttarakhand.
“After the Olympics, it has been fantastic to see over 250 athletes play hockey in Roshnabad (Uttarakhand) and the majority of the 250 athletes are girls. It feels great to see the popularity of the sport and everyone in my hometown also tells me the rules of the game."
Asked what she would advise young girls who want to take up the sport, Vandana replied:
“There will be a lot of people who say a lot of things when women step out to play sports, but we shouldn’t listen to anybody. If we listen to people, then we might take a step backwards. We need to believe in ourselves and keep our focus on the game intact and ignore everyone who say wrong things.”
Defender Gurjit Kaur said women should always believe in themselves.
“Women have a lot of power and they can do anything. Women should continue to be strong and not give up. Whatever women do, whether it’s playing sports or working in business, they should believe in themselves."