BENGALURU: Indian women's hockey team forward Udita is utilising the coronavirus-forced break to introspect on her game and identify the areas that require improvement.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to over 2.8 lakh deaths globally, triggered a collapse of sporting events worldwide and the 22-year-old said the time off gave her the opportunity to analyse footage of her previous games.
"I am watching a lot of footage of my previous games during the lockdown period and noting down some key things that I need to improve once we get back on the pitch. Hopefully, I will improve my skills quickly and become a much better player," Udita said.
The young forward from Haryana said she has learnt a lot playing alongside senior players like Rani and Vandana Katariya.
"It has been a wonderful journey with the Indian team. I idolise Rani and Vandana, and I have learned a lot from them. They are very experienced players and have always supported me during my time with the team.
"I am very lucky to have seniors like them. I keep a close eye on how they practice and strategize before matches."
Life hasn't been easy for Udita.
She lost her father at a very young age and since then her mother has been the biggest support in her life.
"My mother is very special in my life. After I lost my father in 2015, my mother has been a big support for all of us (we are three siblings).
Our mother took our father's place and was always there for us," said Udita.
"I am in the Indian Women's Hockey Team only because of her. She is my friend as well. I have no words to describe how special my mother is for me."
The 22-year-old stumbled upon hockey by sheer happenstance.
She used to play handball in her school and enjoyed playing the sport.
However, there was a phase when her handball coach wasn't available for three days in a row.
It was then Udita decided to ask her mother if she could take up hockey.
And once she learned the sport, she kept moving from one level to the other.
"It's amazing where life takes you sometimes. My handball coach didn't turn up for three days and then I made the switch to hockey in school. I took to hockey immediately and I understood that I can be good at this sport. I think the U-18 Asia Cup in 2016 was a big turning point for me," she said.
"I was the captain of the Indian team and we won a bronze medal in the tournament. My performances were recognized in the competition and eventually, I made my way to the Senior Indian Team."