Indian women’s hockey team’s superstar striker Rani Rampal has been appointed as the captain of the team for the tour to New Zealand which is scheduled to begin from January 25 in Auckland. According to Hockey India, Rampal will lead a 20-member squad and custodian Savita will be her deputy for the tour.
Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne sounded optimistic and was quoted as saying, “I want to use this tour to create more competition within this group. Although we are taking a 20-member team, in some matches we will use 16 players because that is what is allowed at the Olympics. The players have to show their best and I want to see how they perform under pressure and stay in the right rhythm through the series”. The chief coach also said that the matches against current world no. 5 team Great Britain and world no. 6 New Zealand will test the team’s character and show their undaunted spirit.
The tour to New Zealand will serve as an ideal platform for these powerful women to set the ball rolling just before the Tokyo Olympics. Rani, the skipper has been instrumental in helping her team qualify for the Olympics – the first time when the Indian women’s team will play in two consecutive Olympic Games.
Recently FIH, the world governing body of hockey recommended her name for the ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’. Only twenty-five athletes from across the world in different sports have been nominated for this prestigious award. This is another feather on the striker’s cap as she continues to inspire people in India and across the globe.
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajini Etimarpu; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete; Midfielders: Sushila Chanu, Nisha, Namita Toppo, Udita, Monika, Lilima Minz; Forwards: Neha, Sonika, Rani, Sharmila Devi, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur.
January 25: Vs. New Zealand development side; January 27 & 29: Vs. New Zealand; February 4: Vs. Great Britain; February 5: Vs. New Zealand.