Indian hockey has grown exponentially in the past decade. The year 2021, saw one of the best performances by the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams. Bronze by the men’s team and a fourth-place finish by the women’s team in Tokyo Olympics was the main highlight of the year 2021. But here we will look back into the Indian Women team’s glorious year and the feats they achieved this year.
A fairytale year for the Indian Women’s Hockey Team
The pandemic-enforced hiatus disrupted the International Hockey calendar. However, the year 2021 was an incredible one for the Indian women’s hockey team. From a historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics to achieving the best-ever FIH World Rankings. The team played against all odds and achieved what no one thought off. The grit and determination of the team to upset strong opponents fueled the Indian women’s team.
One of the best comebacks in Hockey History
The Indian women’s team, led by Rani Rampal started their Tokyo campaign with back-to-back three defeats and everyone thought they will exit soon. But the team had other plans. The Indian side came back strongly and with a little bit of luck on their side, they qualified for the quarters, where they faced the mighty Australian side.
In the quarter-finals, the team pulled off arguably one of the biggest upsets in world hockey as they defeated the ferocious Australian side. However, the team lost the semi-final encounter and bronze medal match by a whisker against Argentina and Great Britain, respectively.
In a press release by Hockey India, the Indian Women’s Hockey Team Captain Rani expressed on the dream year, “This year was like an emotional roller coaster, full of ups and downs. But, to be honest, we really enjoyed the ride as it included the historic Tokyo Olympics campaign. I reckon 2021 was full of self-belief and determination. There were a lot of learnings involved, and COVID-19 taught us invaluable life lessons. One of them was to stay in the present moment. Staying in the present moment helped us qualify for the Quarter Final as well as beat a team like Australia to script the history.”
What followed after the Tokyo success added to the features of the Indian Women’s team. Indian Women’s team bagged FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2021 in all categories. Dragflicker Gurjit Kaur won the FIH Women’s Player of The Year award, Goalkeeper Savita won the FIH Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year award, Sharmila Devi clinched the FIH Women’s Rising Star of the Year award, and former Indian Women’s Hockey Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne was awarded the FIH Women’s Team Coach of the Year.
In November, members of the women’s team were conferred with national awards in November 2021 for their excellent contribution to the nation. Skipper Rani was honoured with Padma Shri, the country’s fourth-highest civilian award, while experienced forward Vandana Katariya and midfielder Monika were conferred with the Arjuna award. The Indian Women’s hockey team also achieved their highest-ever FIH World ranking (World No. 8) in August and will end the year in the ninth spot as per the latest FIH World rankings.
Game Plan for 2022
Elaborating on the year 2022, Skipper Rani said that the team’s goal will be to build on the historic Olympics campaign. Rani added, “We have set the benchmark for ourselves, and from hereon, we will have to do even better. We want to build on the historic campaign. 2022 will be a very crucial year as we have important tournaments lined up. We will look to qualify directly for the Paris Olympics 2024 by clinching gold at Asian Games 2022. But, for that, we will have to go step-by-step, and our first step will be to do well at Women’s Asia Cup 2022.”