New Delhi: Indian Women’s Hockey Team Captain Savita is confident in her team’s preparation and ability to finish on top of the podium at the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games, which will take place in September and October of this year.
In the latest episode of Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series launched by Hockey India, Commonwealth Games (CWG) medallist and star goalkeeper Savita, who recently won the prestigious Hockey India Balbir Singh Senior Award for Player of the Year (Women) shared her thoughts on the team’s progress, her journey as the team Captain and equal recognition for women’s hockey, the Hockey India sources said.
Talking about the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games, Savita said, “In the last Asian Games, we came close to winning the Gold medal; and losing only by a goal to Japan (1-2) in the Final was heart-breaking. This time we feel that we are more determined than ever before to finish on the top.”
“Every player in the team knows that we have to win the Gold to earn direct qualification for the Paris Olympics. This is the best scenario for us, so that post Asian Games, we can shift focus on the FIH Pro League and then Paris 2024,” she added.
Having taken over the Captaincy post Tokyo Olympics, Savita emphasised that she is enjoying the dual role of goalkeeping and leadership.
“There is an extra responsibility when you are leading the team. Even when I was not the Captain, I knew that I had to share the leadership duties and help the team as a goalkeeper. As a senior member on the side, it was my responsibility to help young and less-experienced teammates by sharing my experience with them,” she said.
She also highlighted the team’s collaborative spirit, saying, “It’s not just the Captain or Vice-Captain who has the responsibility. Even the younger players are ready to take on responsibility, thanks to our Coach Janneke Schopman for instilling these qualities in the team. I believe that everyone should be able to make their own decisions on the pitch without involving anyone.”
The podcast also touched upon the growth and recognition of women’s hockey in India in the last decade.
Savita expressed her pride, saying, “If I compare today’s situation to what it was in 2008 when I joined the team, there’s a massive change and the respect for women’s hockey in the country has grown multifold. Whether it’s about facilities, exposure or recognition, women’s hockey is getting its due.”
“Even the Hockey India Annual Awards serves as a great motivation for us. When the awards began, honestly, I didn’t even know that a women’s team goalkeeper could be picked over the men’s team goalie for the award. So, I was like, I want to be up there, like PR Sreejesh someday, receiving the award,” she said.
Savita also shared her joy in witnessing the financial independence of her teammates due to hockey, stating, “When I started playing hockey, the situation was not that great and I had to wait for nine years to get a job. There were some players who were not even sure of getting two square meals a day. But now, the players are able to build houses for their families. They have regular jobs. And
even the youngest member of the team is doing well financially and this shows that the sport is actually moving in the right direction.”