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'TRY' - How the Indian women's hockey team is building a leadership group bigger than Rani and Savita

Coach Janneke Schopman and captain Savita Punia speak about giving more responsibility to younger players in the Indian women's hockey team as they prepare for an action-packed year.


The Indian women's hockey team will take part in the Asia Cup as their first assignment of the year. (Hockey India)


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 2022-01-14T15:19:43+05:30

Looking to continue their fairy tale run from last year, the Indian women's hockey team is looking to younger players in the team to take increased responsibility as they prepare for what will be a big year.

The Indian squad which will begin their Women's Asia Cup campaign next week in Oman will be without regular captain Rani Rampal, who is currently in rehabilitation. But both stand-in captain Savita Punia and coach Janneke Schopman are confident the leadership group that has formed within the younger players in the team can fill that gap.

"It is true that there is no one as senior in the team as Rani or me, but the reality of our team is that no one is new to their roles. A leadership group has been formed and even if there is someone new coming in to the team, they are given some responsibilities straightaway," Savita Punia said at a media conference on Friday ahead of the team's Asia Cup campaign.

Coach Janneke Schopman stressed on a mantra of 'TRY - Take Responsibility Yourself', as she spoke on the things the team has worked on since taking over after the Tokyo Olympics.

"What I'm trying in the team is to encourage all of the players to take responsibility, even if it is for little things off the field. The senior players are anyway expected to take the lead on the field, but I'm trying to make the others figure out what they're good at, to learn more about themselves by taking on leadership duties," she said.

Savita, who is also set to be the first goalkeeper to be leading the team at the Asia Cup, said the upcoming tournament will offer the team a chance to figure out where the team stands ahead of an important year.

"The Asian Games will be the biggest event of the year, we want to secure Olympic qualification through that. The Pro League is coming up soon, we are excited about it because we will be playing for the first time," she said.

"We shall keep working on our strengths - Penalty Corners, defending Penalty Corners and attacking play," she added.

Hockey India announce new-look core probable group

Savita Punia, Rajani Etimarpu, Bichu Devi Kharibam, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Suman Devi Thoudam, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Mahima Chaudhary, Rashmita Minz, Nisha, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Namita Toppo, Mariana Kujur, Sonika, Neha, Baljeet Kaur, Upasana Singh, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur, Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi, Deepika, Sangita Kumari, Preeti Dubey, Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan

In Rehabilitation Camp: Rani Rampal, Reena Khokhar, Manpreet Kaur.

Indian women's team for Asia Cup

Goalkeepers: Savita (C), Rajani Etimarpu.

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (VC), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita

Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu, Monika, Neha, Salima Tete, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur.

Forwards: Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Mariana Kujur, Sharmila Devi.

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