The 2020 Olympic gold is an attainable goal for the team: Rani Rampal
It is quite appropriate that Olympic-themed rings be the first thing you will notice when you visit the captain of the women's hockey team in India. Rani Rampal Shahabad Markanda's house.
After all, it is under Rani that the team arrived at the Olympic Games, consecutively, in 2016 and, now, 2020. Given that the last India had an Olympic presence it was in 1980, yes, this is a jewel in the world. Crown of this hockey queen.
The place was Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar and India they went behind 0-4 at halftime against the United States of America. In the 49th minute, Rani scored a goal and helped the Indian team reserve a spot at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
We won the first leg comfortably 5-1, but in the second game they fell with all the weapons on. We were losing 0-4 at halftime. We were all very scared. When I was walking towards the field At the beginning of the last quarter, I felt that all our hard work in the last three years had been reduced to these 15 minutes. But I had full confidence in my team. Eventually, when the ball came to me, I stayed calm. and found the bottom of the network. It was such a surreal feeling to be honest, Rani tells TOI.
Now that I think about it, Rani always takes a step forward when it matters most. Whether it is the goal against Japan in Antwerp to win the ticket for the Rio Olympics after 36 years or their goals in regulation time and the penalty shootout when India won its first medal in the Junior Women's World Cup in 2013. Rani les He handed his hand. It can't be denied.
For the spectators, a goal is a goal, most likely the nuances are lost in them, but Rani tells him that Antwerp and the goal he scored in Bhubaneshwar are completely different. Japan's in 2015 was a rebound goal. We weren't sure he would reserve our place at the Rio Olympics, but we managed to finish fifth in the semifinal of the FIH World Hockey League and that helped us over time. It was Vandana, who had made a brilliant run from the left flank and hit the ball, but was saved and I was there to hit her from the rebound. It was very early in the game, so we had to defend that much later, but we managed to get the victory there. The emotions were too high back then because it was a crucial match for us. But in Bhubaneswar, we almost wasted our chances, it was a kind of do or die situation.
Throwing for gold
Now that the monkey called qualification is on the back of the Indian captain, Rani throws for the gold. She believes her team has everything to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics. The team will attend a conditioning camp in Bangalore from November 18. We rely on our abilities to win gold at the Olympic Games. We need to prepare in such a way that we give ourselves the best opportunity to do so. We have some areas that we have to work. We have few tours planned for the next nine months. Now we can play without any 'qualifying' pressure. One of the main areas of concern was to concede the four goals against the United States, especially because we have been defending really well and have not conceded these many goals in a single game for a long time, says Rani.
Deep down, Rani knows that the grade is only half of the work done. She clearly remembers what happened in Rio. The team conceded 19 goals in the tournament and scored only three. They couldn't even reach the knockouts.
The team is more mature than four years ago. We were all very young in Rio, but this time the story is different. We have about 10 players in our team that were there in Rio, so it gives us a big boost. We have all gained experience in these three and a half years. We have also played together for a long time, there is a greater understanding between us. Now we are not afraid to face anyone, which perhaps was not the case in 2016 as we were playing in the Olympic Games after a 36-year gap, Rani reflects.
A difficult start
The Indian women's hockey team suffered a humiliating 0-6 defeat in the bronze medal match against England to finish fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. The agony was only prolonged with a 2-1 defeat against Japan in the Asian Games final in Jakarta.
I think the Gold Coast result was really difficult to achieve because we played well throughout the tournament. But after that we have not conceded many goals. We knew we had to work more on our defensive structure and that is something that has changed since then. so. It was hard to drink, but we came back hard after that, we won the silver medal at the Asian Games, but there we also learned our lessons as we lost the gold. These experiences only make you more difficult, and teach you things that help in future tournaments, says Rani.
However, Indian hockey always seems to be involved in controversies. This time, in a comic turn of events, between February 2017 and May 2018, the women's team changed their coach twice: first it was Harendra Singh and then Sjoerd Marijne took over. But Rani says the team did not face any problems because of this.
It didn't create any problem because we had similar structures under the two trainers. We had worked with Sjoerd before, so it was easier to understand what he wanted from us. Mr. Harendra also had a similar approach to training. The fact that we qualified for the Olympic Games shows that it did not affect us.
Rani also praises Marijne. She believes that Marijine has been a great influence on the team. She says her training style has helped many players to increase their rank. The way he motivates us all is something I really admire. His player management skills are also good, which I think is essential for a coach. Our performances have also improved greatly since he took over. He emphasizes the physical side. of things and I think this has made a difference, says Rani.
What is in a language?
As for the language barrier, Rani says that bridge was crossed a long time ago: players now feel comfortable in English. I think we now have many players who can communicate in English. We have younger players like Lalremsiami, who learned both Hindi and English to communicate better. When they don't understand something, they always ask other players to translate, which also makes it easier for younger players. In addition, coaches promote speaking in English because it helps you on the field when you have to talk to the referee, or maybe hear what other teams are talking about during games, Rani says.
Rani is only 24 years old, but she is already being described as one of the best hockey players in India: she picked up the stick when she was only 7 years old. He debuted for the first time when he was only 14 years old. He has an amazing record, 241 games and 124 goals: no Indian woman has played more international matches than Rani or scored so many goals. In recent years, it is his composure and experience that has helped boost Indian women.
To be honest, I don't think much about my personal achievements. It has been an honor to represent the country for so many years. My goal is to continue doing the same in the future, Rani said.
Home Sweet Home
Interestingly, his hometown, Shahabad, is one of the centers of Indian hockey. It is known as the Sansarpur of Indian women's hockey. The small town has produced several players who have played for India, including former female national team captain Ritu Rani and drag-flicker Sandeep Singh . Other international hockey players like it Add bullet , Sandeep Kaur, Rajni Bala and Surinder Kaur They are also from Shahabad.
Shahabad has produced about 80 players who have come to represent India. Then, of course, it is a great place for hockey players. I think the credit goes to Baldev, sir, forever promoting the sport and supporting players like me who are coming. from a humble background
Every time I return home, I visit the academy (Shahabad Hockey Academy) and talk to the younger players. It is good to see the amount of knowledge they have about sport. And yes, there are players climbing the ranks and I'm sure it will always be that way because the city is crazy about hockey, Rani said.
This athlete too will turn net? Former captain of men's hockey team, Sandeep Singh, who belongs to Shahabad, is now an MLA in Haryana. Wrestlers Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt They have also joined politics. But Rani shakes the question with one in no way. I never had any interest in politics, Rani says with a chuckle.
Will she also become a 'net'?
Former captain of men's hockey team, Sandeep Singh , who belongs to Shahabad, is now an MLA in Haryana. Wrestlers Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt They have also joined politics. But Rani shakes the question with one in no way. I never had any interest in politics, Rani says with a chuckle.
Facing the future
Women's hockey, says the captain, has come a long way in the country. When I started playing, people believed in my hometown that girls should not be allowed to go out and play.
But now parents are encouraging girls to play sports! Not only hockey, but also other sports. And yes, it also has a long way to go, he says.
I think there may be more competitions at the grassroots level for female hockey players, especially at the school level.
Shahabad is for women's hockey what Sansarpur is for men's hockey.
The small town has produced several players who have played for India, including former female national team captain Ritu Rani.
Other international players like Add bullet , Sandeep Kaur, Rajni Bala and Surinder Kaur are also from here.
Every time I return home, I visit Shahabad Hockey Academy and talk to young players. It is good to see the amount of knowledge they have about sport. Players rank up here and I'm sure it will always be that way. because the city is crazy about hockey, Rani said.