The going couldn't have been better for Rani Rampal, member of the national junior women's hockey team, which recently won bronze at the Junior World Cup in Germany.
In an era where women hockey players are constantly failing to make an impact, the 18-year-old from Shahbad, Haryana, has managed to create a few ripples already. From being the top scorer in the Champion's Challenge Tournament in 2010 to being included in the FIH Women's All Star Team in the same year, Rani has surely made a move towards becoming the face of women's hockey in India.
It is a quintessential rags to riches story which defines the life of Rani, the daughter of a cart-puller. In a society where women are bound in the shackles of conservatism, it was not easy for Rani to play. But she always received unconditional support of her father to take up the game, which he, himself is very fond of. “In thick and thin, my father stood by me. In our society, girls playing hockey is a taboo, but my father always supported me,” said Rani.
At a tender age of nine, Rani took up hockey under the watchful eyes of her coach Baldev Singh. The Dronacharya Award winning coach was a major force in scripting the success story of Rani. “Sir helped us in every aspect, even when we didn't have money to buy equipment, he would come forward to help us.”
Being adjudged Player of the Tournament in Germany, Rani wouldn't let the accolades turn her head. Instead, she looks at it merely as a stepping stone to bigger achievements. “I think we could have done better, but some soft mistakes on our part cost us the final berth. But now, I would just like to focus on the Asia Cup.”
Aware of the fact that hockey is a team sport, personal success is of least importance to her. All she longs for is national glory.