India hockey midfielder Salima Tete key as India takes England in opener
From being fearful of boarding a train to becoming a globetrotting athlete, India hockey midfielder Salima Tete has come a long way in the last few years.
Published: 03rd July 2022 07:36 AM | Last Updated: 03rd July 2022 07:36 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: From being fearful of boarding a train to becoming a globetrotting athlete, India hockey midfielder Salima Tete has come a long way in the last few years. A new chapter will be added to her short but glittering career when she takes the field in India's Women's World Cup opener against England in a Pool B match in Amstelveen, Netherlands on Sunday.
Already an established name in the Indian team, 20-year-old Salima now wants a podium finish for the team in the mega event especially after the historic fourth-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year. "We have improved a lot after the Tokyo Games. People have started watching our matches now. Even people from my village have started watching matches. This all motivates me. Now we have to see how we can finish on the podium. And for that we have to work hard, stay connected with each other and motivate each other," Salima, who hails from Badkichapar village, Simdega (Jharkhand), told this daily.
After England, India will play China on July 5, followed by a match against New Zealand on July 7.
Given her show in the recently concluded FIH Pro League matches against the eventual champion Argentina, the midfielder will also be expected to dribble past defenders and create scoring opportunities for the team at the biggest stage of the game.
Knowing the additional responsibility she would have in the tournament, Salima, who recently captained the team to a fourth-place finish in the Junior World Cup, is working on her finishing skills. "I know I have speed. Coaches also know that so they want me to play in the forward line and feed balls to strikers. Because of my speed, I form a good combination with strikers. I am working on my finishing skills. It's not necessary that I only score goals. It's also important to pass the ball. Anyways, it's the end results that matter. We need a goal and who scores it doesn't matter."
Great Britain shattered India's bronze medal hopes in Tokyo as they registered a close 4-3 win against them in the bronze medal play-off. Since then, the Indian women have improved considerably and recently finished a creditable third in their maiden outing at the FIH Pro League. Salima, who led the team to a silver medal finish at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, strongly believes the team can improve their showing in the showpiece event. "Self-belief is the biggest thing. We should be self-motivated to do things. This will help us do anything," she asserted.
India's best show in the World Cup is a fourth-place finish at the inaugural edition in 1974 while their rivals in the opener, England's best result came in the 2010 edition where they finished with a bronze medal. However, a lot has changed since then as there is hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides. England is placed fourth in the world rankings while India is sixth. And Salima, who once used to be afraid of train travel fearing something big might come in the way and derail it, is ready to dart forward and help the team realise its potential without thinking about defenders and their past reputation.