If one moment we wished we could see in our lifetimes was the triumph of our Indian Women Hockey team on the international level. And these 16 brave-hearts made it possible on sunday as the team made it into the semi-finals for the first time in history. It was all the more iconic because they were up against the unbeatable world no. 2 team Australia and won at the last minute, an intense 1-0 after the last 8 ties.
Women are proving themselves time and again in all the fields and this year’s Tokyo Olympics is another example of their sheer determination, potential, and strength. The Rani Rampal-led team had faced major difficulties in their personal life and chose to rise above them and overcome those with their power. The team will play against Argentina in the Semi-Finals on Wednesday.
The Indian Women Hockey Team Members:
1. Rani Rampal (26, Forward)
Making her debut at the age of 14, her adventures began while she was wearing a salwar-kameez and playing with a broken hockey stick. The 26-year-old is a major player on the team. She’s also helped the team win a Junior World Cup medal and an Asian Cup, and she’s one of the main reasons India qualified for the Olympics for the first time in back-to-back years.
2. Neha Goyal (24, Midfielder)
Hockey came to teenage Neha as an escape with two meals. It was her way out from her alcoholic father. Coming from an abusive household, Neha used to work with her mother at a cycle factory, earning 5 Rs to fix one spoke of the wheel. Debuting in the national team at the age of 18, Goyal has been named Hockey India’s Midfielder of the Year after winning a silver medal at the Asian Games in 2018.
3. Nikki Pradhan (27, Defender)
Coming from an area known to have a Naxal stronghold, she grew up with financial troubles. When Pradhan transferred to a Ranchi institution in 2006, she got her first pair of hockey sneakers and a stick. She joined the national squad in 2015 and played in Rio Olympics where she became the first player from her state to compete.
4. Nisha Warsi (26, Midfielder)
Warsi’s father who worked as a tailor suffered a paralytic attack in 2015 and hence her mother had to work at the foam manufacturing factory to make ends meet. Warsi joined the Indian team in 2018, made her international debut two years ago, and since has been a key player in the team.
5. Lalremsiami (21, Forward)
One of the finest forwards of the team playing high-tempo cricket. 16-year-old Siami communicated in sign language as she did not know Hindi or English. She is the first female player from Mizoram to create history.
6. Sushila Chanu (29, Midfielder)
Leading the team in Rio Olympics 2016, she is one of the senior-most and influential people in the team. She has almost 150 caps for the national team, has competed in the Asian and Commonwealth Games, and was vital in the quarter-final shutout of the Australians.
7. Deep Grace Ekka (27, Defender)
Hailing from a family of Hockey enthusiasts, Ekka was part of the team that won the Asia Cup 2017. Criticized by her district for not doing her ‘chores’ as a woman, Ekka continued to work on her dreams to become a part of the Olympics team now.
8. Salima Tete (19, Midfielder)
Born on the Naxal Stronghold, she worked on her family’s farm, earned money to buy a hockey stick for herself. Ahead of the Olympics, she had won 29 caps for the senior national team.
9. Udita Duhan (23, Defender)
Not having an interest in the sport, her mother convinced her to try her hand at hockey. Duhan’s speed caught everyone’s attention and in 2016 she was chosen captain of the U-18 Asian Cup bronze-winning squad. She was promoted to the senior team a year later and has been there ever since.
10. Vandana Kataria (26, Forward)
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Coming on the field three months after her father passed away, Kataria is playing as an ode to her father who fought society for her. Kataria is the only Indian woman to score an Olympic Hat-trick and will now play for the medal in the semi-final.
11. Navneet Kaur (25, forward)
Competing in the Rio Olympics, she also won a bronze medal at the 2013 Junior World Cup. Kaur considers Australian player Jamie Dwyer as her idol and she presented her fabulous performance by defeating her idol’s national team on Sunday.
12. Monika Malik (27, Midfielder)
Born in a village in the Sonipat district, she began her hockey training at a government school in Chandigarh. On the field, the national team’s backbone has won the Asia Cup in 2018, as well as bronze and silver medals at the Asian Games in 2014 and 2018.
13. Gurjit Kaur (25, Defender)
The legendary drag flicker’s defence was the most crucial moment against the Australian team’s attack. Scoring eight at the Asia Cup triumph in 2017, and being the top scorer when India won the 2019 FIH Women’s Series, Kaur played an important role in taking the team to the semi-finals.
14. Sharmila Devi (19, Forward)
In 2019, the teenager made her international debut at the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo. She was also on the scoresheet when India beat the USA to secure qualification.
15. Navjot Kaur (26, Midfielder)
Started training in 2003, her ability to poach goals got her into the team. She has won bronze and silver at the Asian Games in 2014 and 2018 and was part of the team in Rio games 2016.
16. Savita Punia (31, Goalkeeper)
One of the most important parts of the team, she’s the main choice goalkeeper, the team’s vice-captain, and one of the heroes of Monday’s quarter-final.
The Tokyo Olympics 2020
The Odds were not looking in the favor of the Indian Women‘s Hockey Team since they were up against the unbeatable Australian team. But fate had other plans and the yearning and hard work of the team paved their way to the semi-finals in the intense match of 1-0. Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur rose to the occasion when it mattered and converted India’s lone penalty corner in the 22nd minute to surprise the Australians.
The Team led by the Dutch Coach Sjoerd Marijne, created a real Chak- De moment on Sunday with their legendary win, creating if I may say ‘Herstory’. We wish the team all the best for their face-off with Argentina on Wednesday. The entire nation is rooting for the girls. Chak-De!