The horic fourth place finish in the Tokyo Olympics lifted the profile of women’s hockey in the country immensely with youngsters taking up the sport in large numbers, India players Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur and Gurjit Kaur said on Tuesday.
India ended at fourth place in the Tokyo Games women’s hockey after losing to Great Britain in the bronze medal play-off last year. It was the best performance in 41 years after 1980 Moscow Olympics where the national team had also finished fourth.
“There has certainly been a change in mindset since Tokyo Olympics last year,” midfielder Navjot Kaur said during a virtual press conference on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.
“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.”
A woman with a voice is definition a strong woman💙
On this Wonderful day hear from our Women’s Hockey Team players how they broke the barriers and achieved anything and everything they dreamt of.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) March 8, 2022
Echoing similar sentiments, forward Vandana Katariya said she was amazed to see so many girls coming out to play hockey at her home town Roshnabad in Uttarakhand.
“After the Olympics, it has been fantastic to see over 250 athletes play the game of hockey in Roshnabad (Uttarakhand) and majority of the 250 athletes are girls. It feels great to see the popularity of hockey and everyone in my hometown also tells me the rules of the game,” she said.
Asked what she would advise young girls who want to take up the sport, Katariya said, “There will be a lot of people who say a lot of things when women step out to play sports, but we shouldn’t len to anybody.
“If we len 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,” she said.
“If one has the support from her family, then anything is achievable. We also need to have a positive approach towards every problem we face in our lives. I know it’s easier said than done, but we need to learn how to keep a positive frame of mind in difficult circumstances.”
The Indian women’s hockey team will be seen in action in the two-legged FIH Pro League tie against Germany on March 12 and 13 here.