A member of the Indian women’s hockey team which claimed a historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, forward Navneet Kaur says it was the relentless efforts of her father which helped her to play for the national team. “I always had a great interest in sports since my childhood. My father wanted me to be a cricketer, but there was no cricket in my hometown – Shahabad,” Navneet said in ‘Hockey Te Charcha’ — a podcast series initiated by Hockey India. “There was a school in front of my house where hockey was played and that’s where I started playing the sport.
“My father, who used to work in a TV repairing shop, has put in a lot of effort to help me reach the Indian team.” The 26-year-old from Haryana had scored a late goal to help India beat Ireland 1-0 at the group stage and keep their hopes alive for a place in the quarterfinals at Olympics last year.
Navneet had burst on to the scene when she had converted a penalty stroke to help India win a bronze at the 2013 junior World Cup.
“The junior World Cup 2013 was the biggest tournament for me when I joined the Junior Indian women’s team. It was quite a good tournament for me. We won the bronze medal after winning a shoot-out and I had also scored in the shoot- out,” she said.
“A lot of players from that Indian Junior team are playing together in the current Senior India Team. It has felt really nice to play with the same players for so many years.” Her India teammate Neha also spoke about the challenges that she faced on the way to representing India and stressed on the importance of her mother in her life.
“I faced a lot of challenges when I started playing hockey. One of my friends in school had asked me to start playing hockey and the friend had also taken me to the ground,” she said.
“I started playing only because we were given shoes and clothes. And since then, I have been practicing at the Hockey Academy in Sonepat. My coach and my mother have supported me a lot. My mother has struggled a lot to help me reach where I am today.” Neha also said that the Indian team performed well at the Tokyo Olympics because the team worked hard on its fitness.
“We felt really happy when we won the gold medal at the women’s Asia Cup 2017. Thereafter, our confidence kept increasing little by little and we kept improving our performance as well,” she said.
“We also focusedsed on improving our fitness. Then we played well at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2019 and then we produced a good result at the Tokyo Olympics. We could do well at the Olympics only because we had improved our fitness.”
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