24 Jun GURJIT KAUR SHINES AS INDIA DEFEATS JAPAN IN FIH WOMEN’S SERIES
The Indian women’s hockey team has proved its mettle yet again. India won the FIH Women’s Series Finals on Sunday. The 9th best women’s hockey team in the world defeated the hosts, Japan 3-1 in the finals held at the Hiroshima Hockey Stadium.
Captain Rani Rampal gave a heart-warming lead in the 3rd minute. The celebrations, however, was short-lived as Japan’s Kanon Mori scored in the 11th minute unflinchingly. Defender Gurjit Kaur then scored in the 45th and 60th minute, crowning India the first victors of the Women’s series.
With this win, Indian women’s hockey team has qualified for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers 2019, which is a qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. It will take place later this year.
India played a dominating game against Japan in the first quarter. They already had a lead in the 3rd minute. A second Penalty Corner presented itself in the 9th minute, but the team gave a foul. Japan, however, seemed to struggle to keep the ball in their circles. They could manage only two chances to score in the first quarter but used it beautifully.
In the second quarter, forward Vandana Katariya missed a chance to goal in the 18th minute. As the clocks raced, Japan began picking up pace. Nevertheless, the strategic brilliance demonstrated by India ensured that the opponents couldn’t score.
The third quarter gave two austere penalty corners to India in the beginning. The game got attacking again. Finally, India won another penalty corner in the last minute, that Gurjit Kaur effortlessly changed into a goal.
The fourth quarter saw a brilliant defense by the Japanese goalkeeper as she successfully stopped two goals. The cat-and-mouse game went on till the last five minutes when Japan decided to take their goalkeeper off. The game allows the goalkeeper to play on the field as an extra outfield player. The strategy, however, proved fatal as drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur took another chance to score a goal in the last minute. And goal she did, becoming the top scorer of the tournament and winning the trophy for her team.
Captain Rani Rampal won the Best Player of the FIH Women’s Series Finals 2019 tag. Gurjit took home the recognition of being the top scorer of the first edition of the tournament. Above all, the Indian women’s hockey team now has the chance to improve their track record in the Olympic games. The team has been continuously improving its performance under its Dutch coach, Sjoerd Marijne.
The brilliance of the Indian women’s hockey team is significant not only for the future of Indian hockey but also for every girl who dreams of becoming a sportsperson. Since its inception, Indian hockey teams have seen great diversity in their squads, with equal participation from the supposedly poor communities.
Hockey can boast of having players from all corners of the country in it’s playing eleven. Odisha government now sponsors both Hockey teams of India. Initiatives like Hockey Village India have faced enormous challenges in taking sports to the grassroots, but they have finally succeeded.
These victories will help cement India’s position as a champion in Hockey and will, in turn, inspire people to dream big.