The Indian women's hockey team will play Argentina in January next year, in their first tour since the COVID-19 pandemic. India will resume playing international hockey matches after nearly a year as they prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2021.
Hockey India announced a core group of 25 players and seven staff members for the eight matches to be played in Argentina, starting from January 17. The team is expected to leave from New Delhi on January 3.
It is very important to play matches against a strong team like Argentina: Rani Rampal
The Indian women's hockey team last played in January 2020 when they took on New Zealand and Great Britain women's teams in a five-match series. The Indian eves won three of those games.
After such a long break, it is crucial to get matches under their belt. Captain Rani Rampal acknowledged the need for matches and said that the tour will help the Indian women's hockey team to gear up for the Olympics.
“We have a little over 200 days before we arrive in Tokyo for the Olympic Games in July 2021 and it is very important to play matches against a strong team like Argentina,” said Rani Rampal.
The Indian women's hockey team secured its spot in the Olympics for a second consecutive time as it won the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019. The side had been training in a national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Center in Bangalore for the last few months.
Rampal thanked Hockey India and SAI for organizing the tour as it will help them gauge their level ahead of the mega-quadrennial event.
"This tour has been planned very carefully keeping in mind the safety of players and we are truly grateful to Hockey India and SAI for ensuring we resume competition despite the ongoing pandemic," Rani Rampal said.
"The team is really excited for this opportunity and has been keenly looking forward to this tour. This exposure will make us understand the level we are at after nearly a five-month long National Coaching Camp in Bengaluru," she added.
The Indian women's hockey team will undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR Test 72 hours before they depart from New Delhi. The matches will follow the health and safety measures advised by the government of Argentina.Published 31 Dec 2020, 17:25 IST