Mallamada Narendra Ponnamma has suddenly put the focus back on hockey and Coorg. She was part of the women's hockey team that bagged the bronze medal at the Junior World Cup hockey in Moenchengladbach, Germany.
This was also the first such show by the national women's team and the Karnataka lass played a very important role in the successful campaign. Ponampet and the entire Coorg rejoiced as she returned home with the medal around her proud neck.
"I’m really thrilled and happy to come back home with a bronze medal. Our team has not had this kind of success at the international level and that makes it even more delightful," Ponnamma said.
"For some of us, this was our last chance to play the junior level due to the age factor. Having played against tougher rivals, we could fall back on the experience and that allowed us to play better. The team spirit was great and it all worked well in the end," added Ponnamma.
Always interested in sports, she took part in many disciplines like athletics, hockey and volleyball.
But it was the frequent trips to the MEG Stadium with her father that got her interested in hockey. She first tasted success when she was selected in the school team. But it was in 2005 that real opportunity knocked on her door. "I was selected by the SAI Sports Hostel in Madikeri. That changed everything for me and I kept playing more and more giving up all else," she said.
After faring well in the Dasara sports and other district tournaments, she was selected in the state team for national championships. "I concentrated on defence and eventually was selected for the national junior and senior teams as well. I was also in the team which took part in a tournament in Argentina where we won the bronze as well in 2011," she added.
She owes all her success to her coach Neil Hawgood. "The level of hockey at district and state level is much below the national and international levels. Hawgood helped us to bridge the gap with some astute coaching. He helped me technically and made me far more fitter than I was. Right now I want to work harder and bring more laurels for the country," she added.
"The kind of reception we have got after winning the bronze is unimaginable. It has spurred me to do far better. I am grateful to everyone who has supported us all along and also everyone who has sent messages or spoken to us after the tournament," Ponnamma added.