Indian hockey legend Zafar Iqbal believes that the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham showed that the Indian women's team is capable of beating the best in the world on their day.
Addressing players at the launch of the Khelo India U-16 Women's Hockey League, the former Indian player lauded the enthusiasm of young athletes.
“The Commonwealth Games recently showed us that, be it in hockey or athletics, our girls are capable of defeating any team in the world. You have the skill and stamina and you are the future."
The event graced by the former India captain is meant to provide a platform for young players to showcase their talent. More than 300 players, from the 16 participating teams, were in attendance.
Iqbal also praised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for sports. He also believes that platforms like Khelo India will go a long way in shaping an athlete's future.
"It is great to see the kind of enthusiasm our Hon’ble Prime Minister has for sports and today, we have so many platforms like the Khelo India scheme, which has made this U-16 tournament possible."
The former Olympian advised the players to give their best in the U-16 tournament and not worry about the results.
“The U-16 Women’s League is a good opportunity to shine and it's a great platform to learn also. And like our Hon’ble PM said to our athletes before the CWG, give your best and don’t worry about win or lose."
Khelo India Hockey League to be played in three phases
The inaugural Khelo India U-16 Women’s League commenced at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in the national capital on August 16. The league has been divided into three phases.
A total of 56 matches will be played in the first phase of the league. The idea behind launching the women's league in India is to negate the limited exposure to competitions, which are crucial to perform well at the international level.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has allocated a total of ₹53.72 lakh for all three phases of the competition, which includes a prize money of ₹15.5 lakh.
A host of officials and former players were also present at the league's opening ceremony.