Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal feels that a good show in the series against Argentina will boost her side’s confidence heading into this year’s Tokyo Olympics. Indian women’s team will hit the restart button and begin its Olympic preparations with the tour of Argentina, starting next week, almost a year after their calendar was disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we play to our potential against Argentina, then we will attain (gain) a lot of confidence for the all-important Olympics, where we are aiming nothing short of a medal,” Rani was quoted as saying in a Hockey India (HI) media release. “Hopefully, we can make history in Tokyo and make our country proud. We are going to give our absolute best in every match we play this year,” she added.
India will compete in eight matches against hosts Argentina, starting from January 17 to 31. “We are very excited to make our return to the international circuit. The year 2020 was really tough for us, however, we continued to practice our skills at the national coaching camp.” The skipper is looking forward to seeing how her teammates responds in match situations after a long break. “All the players in the team are feeling very confident about their games and it will be interesting to see how each one of them performs in a match situation after staying away from the international circuit for almost one year.” While the women’s team is gearing up for their next assignment, HI has been in talks with different nations to also organise a tour for the men’s team, which played its last international match against Australia on February 22 last year at the FIH Hockey Pro League.
Men’s skipper Manpreet Singh said his side is keen to get some much-needed match practice ahead of the Tokyo Games. “We are very excited about getting back into the international circuit. We are really looking forward to playing against an international team before the Olympics,” Manpreet said.
“A few matches against a good team will help us prepare for the Olympics. This year is very important for us. We have practiced very hard in the last few months and have raised our game to a level that is close to which we usually operate in international games. “If we play to our potential at the Olympics in July, then we will surely bring glory to our country. We have to go into the Olympics with a mindset of clinching a medal,” he added. The Indian junior men’s and women’s teams have also not played a tournament since 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“We are really looking forward to the FIH Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup 2021 and the AHF Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2021, which will be held in India and Bangladesh respectively,” said junior men’s team defender Sanjay. Junior women’s defender Ishika Chaudhary expressed that the AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup is the most immediate goal for her side right now.
“We have been working towards the AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup since we returned to the national camp. It’s been great to target a tournament and keep getting better at our game every day. “The AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup is very important for us since it will give us a chance to book a place in the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup,” said the 20-year-old.