Indian women’s hockey future is bright: Rani

JAIPUR (TIP): It’s a dream come true for Rani Rampal. Her stupendous show kept India’s hopes of qualifying for the Rio Games alive as the team earned a fifth-place finish in the women’s Hockey World League semifinals in Antwerp last Saturday. Rani also scored in India’s 1-0 win over Japan.

“Playing for my country is a great honour and I will keep working hard to win more games for my team in the coming years,” she told TOI after the team reached New Delhi on Monday morning.

“Our target is to qualify for Olympics and we are still in contention. All the players played to their strengths. The last two games were very crucial for us and the team members were well aware of their jobs and they performed superbly. The younger players, especially, played really well and I can confidently say that the future for women’s hockey in India is very bright,” Rani said.

Rani scored a brilliant goal in the 13th minute and that proved to be the difference. “Going into the fifth place playoff, we drew confidence from our victory over Japan in the bronze medal game of the Asian Games in Incheon. It was a tough match no doubt, but we knew the war would be over if we lost belief in ourselves,” she said.

The young India striker said doubts are always going to creep into one’s mind before a crunch game. “But we stayed focused since our target was to qualify for the Rio Olympics. We played some of the higher-ranked teams, which helped us to improve ourselves in some areas,” she stated.