Seasoned Rani Rampal,determined to lead Indian women's Hockey team by example

One of the 22 districts of Haryana, Kurukshetra — a sacred place for Hindus — was the land of Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

Published: 21st July 2018 04:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2018 04:30 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI:One of the 22 districts of Haryana, Kurukshetra — a sacred place for Hindus — was the land of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. But today, the people there have one more reason to be proud of: their hometown girl Rani Rampal, who will be leading the Indian team in the women’s Hockey World Cup in London for the first time.

Though the majority of the 18-member squad are setting foot in the World Cup for the first time, playing in this big ticket event is not something unfamiliar for Rani. She was the youngest in the contingent when India finished ninth in the 2010 edition in Argentina. At the age of 15, putting aside pressure, she announced herself to the world with a total of seven goals. This stellar performance — she was the second highest goalscorer  — was recognised with ‘Best Young Player of the Tournament’ award.

Hailing from a small town named Shahabad Markanda, where people were initially hesitant to accept a girl playing hockey, pursuing her dream was no easy task. Her father worked as a cart-puller and poverty shaped her life, making her constantly punch above weight. It was the year 2009, where she caught the eye of many. Rani played in the Champions Challenge Tournament held in Kazan and guided India to victory by scoring four goals in the finals. Having finished as top scorer, she was named young player of the tournament.

Within a year, she earned a place in 2010 World Cup. After a gap of eight years (the team failed to qualify for the 2014 edition), on Saturday, India will take on the Olympic champions England in their opening clash on Saturday and Rani will once again be in the spotlight.  

Looking back at the transformation from a young player to a matured skipper, Rani said there are more lessons learnt.  “I was only 15 when I played the World Cup for the first time. I was like any other youngster with the motive to play more games for the country. But this time, it’s a huge moment especially when you are leading the side. In these eight years, a lot of things have changed. It was a roller coaster ride for me. There were good times, and there were bad times. But as you play more matches, you will learn to handle both sides,” the 23-year-old had said before leaving for London.

Apart from Rani, Deepika is the other player to have played in a World Cup. She believes her experience will come in handy and pressure will not affect their performance.“The team is excited to take on the field because it’s their first World Cup. There is good energy in the team, to play the World Cup and bring glory. We all know we didn’t qualify last time. But it is the same bunch of players who won the Asia Cup last year and ensured the qualification. They know they need to be at their best. I want to help others grow, with whatever I have gained in the past years.”

With 108 goals to her name, Rani’s journey to World Cup is a tale of motivation for girls  from small towns. With Deepika alongside, the duo will be determined to rally the youngsters and script a memorable tale.


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