Of the 16 membered women’s national hockey team, Neha Goyal has an inspiring story to share. Goyal, 24, is ready to make her debut for the national team in the biggest sports event- the Olympic Games. The team was announced on Thursday for the event scheduled to take place in Tokyo next month.
Recalling the beginning of her daughter’s journey, Savitri Devi shared that to save her daughter from the toxic environment of the house, she enrolled her in Haryana Hockey Academy, Sonepat. Now 13 years later, she feels proud of taking the right decision at the right time.
“My husband would get drunk, and become abusive and violent. Whenever he came home, my daughter used to shut her eyes, close both her ears with her fingers and hide behind me. That was no way to live. The hockey ground felt safer,” she added.
Goyal used to work with her mother at a cycle factory to feed the family of five. The journey from earning a meagre Rs. 2000 a month, for straightening the spokes, to the national team, Neha is an inspiration to many aspiring sportswomen.
It was her coach Pritam Siwach, an Arjuna awardee and a member of India’s 2002 CWG gold medal-winning women’s team, who runs a hockey academy in Sonepat, Haryana, who saw the 11-year-old Neha lingering near the ground every day. She perceived the stamina of the little girl and gave her a skipping rope. Ms Goyal impressed her and in return, Siwach promised her two proper meals daily if she would play.
To conceive her parents for Hockey, Siwach went her home. Neha was embarrassed to invite her as the family was living in a tiny house, after 10 steps you reach the wall, Siwach recalls.
Neha often remembers the gone days when her jobless father used to come home all drunk and things getting out of control.
Despite her struggling childhood, her teammates find her one of the happy-go-lucky players in the team. With a big smile on her face, Neha is always optimistic no matter how bad the situation is, they agreed in unison.