Former Indian Women’s Hockey star Deepika Thakur who has over 200 International Caps and was recently conferred with the Arjuna Award believes the Indian Women’s Team has a strong chance to finish in the top 4 in the Olympic Games next year. She credits the team’s resurgence to Hockey India who has ensured there are no setbacks in the team’s preparations despite the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“I am happy that the team was able to resume activities soon after nationwide lockdowns ended. Even though there may not be any competitions this year due to the prevailing travel restrictions, remaining in the National Camp will allow the players enough time to return to old form and keep up their fitness level,” explained Deepika who was part of the Indian Team at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and was a significant contributor to lifting the Asian Champions Trophy title in 2016.
The National Federation for hockey laying emphasis on the development of women’s hockey and also keeping the pressure upon the team management to show results has helped the team to achieve desirable results. She put things into perspective and explained: “Five years ago if you would ask me whether the women’s team had it in them to break into the top 10 rankings in the world, my answer may not have been a sure yes.
I feel Hockey India providing the best coaching setup and also demanding results from them and the players on similar lines as the men’s team has had a positive effect on the team. The women’s team is determined to show that they too can win tournaments like the men’s team. We have won the Asian Champions Trophy (2016), Asia Cup (2017), entered the Quarter Finals in the World Cup in London, won Silver at the Asian Games 2018. I think these are all great results and collective work by coaching staff and the federation. I feel Hockey India has ensured the women’s team gets fantastic exposure at the international level and planning the ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competition) accordingly has been critical in the team’s resurgence.”
Moving forward, Deepika feels the team should remain motivated and focused on their goal of doing well at the Tokyo Olympic Games. “The current Indian side is very committed and focused. But when you have to be in National Camps without competition it is easy to feel less motivated. Also, without competition, it is difficult to assess improvement. Hence, I would say it is a very crucial time for the team and each player should have her own yardstick and must work on raising the bar,” stated the experienced defender.
Though Deepika feels the team has it in them to bounce back when international competitions resume although they have not been in competition for a significant part of this year. “I certainly believe the team can bounce back. They were in good rhythm after winning back-to-back tournaments last year and they had done well in New Zealand earlier this year. They were high on confidence too. This team is hungry to achieve success at the highest level and hence I am sure once competitions resume, they will bounce back and do everything in their capacity to finish top 4 in Tokyo.”