With just a week to go for the start of the prestigious Women’s Asian Champions Trophy Ranchi 2023, Indian hockey team players Salima Tete, Nikki Pradhan, and Sangita Kumari, who all hail Jharkhand, expressed their excitement for the upcoming tournament.
The tournament, which will take place from October 27 to November 5, will see India competing alongside Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Savita will be leading the team in the tournament with Deep Grace Ekka as her deputy. India will open their campaign in the tournament against Thailand October 27.
India forward Sangita expressed excitement about returning to Ranchi for the major tournament, saying, “I played my first tournament in Ranchi when I was in the U-14 team, and we won the Bronze medal for Hockey Jharkhand. Later on, I played at the Sub Junior level here as well.
“However, this will be my first time competing in such a major international event in Ranchi. I can’t wait to walk out in front of the home fans, who will be out in force to show their support,” Sangita was quoted by Hockey India website.
Sangita has fond memories of playing matches in the city when she was younger, and she feels proud of the growth of hockey in the state. “When I arrived at the hostel, there were few facilities available. Previously, only a few players emerged from the state. However, Jharkhand now has many players on the National Team.
“All the required facilities, including hockey turfs and equipment, are available here. Over the years, Hockey India and the Jharkhand government have worked hard to ensure the growth of hockey in the state.”
After their first match against Thailand, India will take on Malaysia on October 28. India will face off against China in their third game October 30, and then compete against Japan on October 31.
India will play their final pool game against Korea on November 2. The Semi-Finals and Final of the tournament will be played on November 4 and 5, respectively.
Meanwhile, defender Nikki, who has already earned over 150 International Caps for India, said that the tournament will help the young players in the state.
“I am happy that Hockey India and the Jharkhand government decided to organise such a prestigious tournament here in Ranchi. Hockey is growing in the state, and this tournament will further boost the rise of the sport. Soon, there will come a time when our state will be known by its best hockey players. Our young players here in the state will also get to learn a lot from this tournament,” she said.
Nikki also revealed that her family members are looking forward to seeing international hockey being played in Ranchi as well, and she expects them to pack the stadiums after the tournament begins.
“This will be the first time an international event of this calibre is being played here in Ranchi. All my family members, cousins, and friends are so excited and keep calling me asking to check when the matches will begin. I am confident that all of them will be a part of the crowd. It makes me a bit nervous but I am also equally excited to perform in front of my loved ones.”
This will be the seventh edition of the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy. The Indian team won the title in 2016 and finished as the runners-up in 2018. Hence, the team will aim to continue the good show and finish on the podium.
Midfielder Salima said that the Indian team will benefit from the fact that they have played in the conditions in Ranchi before. “Three members of our team have grown up playing hockey in Jharkhand and are all well-versed with the atmosphere and conditions here in Ranchi.
“Many of us have also played across several domestic tournaments here in the state, and hence, we are confident of adjusting to the surroundings quickly and making necessary adjustments which will give us an advantage in the tournament.”
Salima, who hails from Simdega district, further stated that she wants to put forth her best in the tournament to help her side claim the Gold medal. “The tournament is a good chance for us to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics Qualifiers. I want to give my best in the tournament, and we as a team, want to improve certain areas before the crucial matches in January.
The Women’s Asian Champions Trophy Ranchi 2023 is an important tournament for us to continue our growth as a team,” Salima signed off.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – IANS)