Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup: Confident India eye winning start
Potchefstroom (South Africa) : The Indian Junior Women’s Hockey team led by Salima Tete is all geared up for the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup which gets underway here from April 1.Having patiently waited for this moment, after the coveted quadrennial tournament was postponed from December 2021 due to the omicron-threat in South Africa, the Indian team’s dressing room is filled with excitement ahead of their first match in Pool D against Wales on 2nd April.Reflecting the team’s sentiments, Captain Salima Tete who had led the U-18 team to a historic Silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 said, “There is a lot of excitement among the players. Everyone has worked so hard for this moment and used the postponement to gain better exposure, improve as a team so we can put up our best performance here.”She further highlighted the team’s preparations in the lead to the tournament, having landed in Potchefstroom almost a week ahead of their first match.
“Coming here early has helped us tremendously. We have been able to get a good amount of training sessions here which has helped in acclimatizing to the weather. It gets very warm and humid during the day. It definitely helped to have our last camp before coming here in Bhubaneswar, Odisha where we trained in quite hot conditions.”The Indian team will begin their campaign against Wales on April 2 followed by their second Pool D match against Germany. They will take on Malaysia in the third match and will hope to play the quarter final on April 8 while the Semifinals and final will be held on April 10 and 12 respectively.”Definitely the team is confident of putting up our best performance. We are well-prepared and have a good mix of experienced players. Our aim will be to take it match-by-match, get off to a good start and play as per plan,” added Tete, who was one of the youngest members of the Indian Women’s Team that finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Vice-captain Ishika Chaudhary, who recently made her debut in the Senior squad during the FIH Hockey Pro League, said, “Many of us in the team got an opportunity to play with the Senior team and we also trained alongside them in Bhubaneswar. I feel this experience will definitely help us in the Junior World Cup.”The Indian team also played two warm-up matches against England and Netherlands, both games ended in a draw. “We played 4×10 minutes warm-up matches against England and Netherlands. It gave us insights into the areas we need to prioritize. We were creating many chances but didn’t convert enough. However, the fact that we have all been in the National program for the last 3-4 years helps us understand each other’s game well and overcome setbacks if any. We look forward to a good start,” Ishika concluded.