‘Will always feel indebted to Odisha’s contribution in my formative years,’ says Jyoti Chhatri
She is part of the Indian team for FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2023.
Jyoti Chhatri’s mercurial rise in hockey, since making her debut with the Indian Junior Women’s Team in 2022 at the Uniphar U23 5 Nations Tournament, is a testimony to a well-oiled grassroots development program prevalent in the state of Odisha.
Like many of her senior compatriots from the state, Jyoti also began her career at the Panposh Sports Hostel in Rourkela in 2014. Her eldest brother, Suraj Chhatri, was the first to pick up the stick, inspiring Jyoti to follow in his footsteps. “I noticed that the freedom and knowledge he gained while playing hockey made it feel like he had a better personality, a better outlook.
“I wanted to experience this firsthand, to do something for myself and explore different avenues through the sport. Initially, my parents didn’t share the same point of view, but the coaches persuaded my family members to let me play hockey professionally,” she recounted.
Her father, Bhim Singh Chhatri, is a master mason, while her mother is a homemaker, and she has two elder brothers. “I had to adjust a bit in terms of the lack of proper equipment or shoes owing to the family’s financial situation. But my family did their best while I gave my all on the pitch,” she expressed.
Though Jyoti received the encouragement she needed from her family to nurture her budding career, she had to overcome the hardships of suffering an injury that almost threatened her career even before it took flight. “The toughest period in my life was when I sustained a back injury in 2016. There was no clear diagnosis, hence I underwent general treatment. I was on bed rest for 15 to 20 days on two different occasions.”
“I tried to stay strong through this period, but at times, I thought I might have to give up hope of making a career in hockey. My parents were concerned that it might affect my future as well, and due to this worry, I started to hide my pain from the family,” she recalled.
Jyoti’s moment of reckoning came in 2020 when she joined the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre. A crucial stepping stone in her career, Jyoti not only received scientific training that aligned with Hockey India’s national program in SAI, Bengaluru, but she also learned about the importance of injury management.
“Making it to the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey HPC was a blessing in disguise. I received specific treatment for my back and strengthened my glutes and hamstrings, which cured my back pain. I will always feel indebted to Odisha’s contribution in my formative years,” she added.
From here on, there was no looking back for Jyoti, who went on to secure a spot in the Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team after her brilliant performance in the 11th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2021 in Jharkhand. She was also an integral part of the Women’s Junior Asia Cup-winning team earlier this year. Jyoti finally made the jump to the Indian Women’s Hockey Team in July 2023, making her debut in the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation-International Tournament.
With only weeks left for the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2023, Jyoti is confident of putting on a good show in Santiago, where they will begin their campaign against Canada in their first Pool C match on 29th November.
“We are working on our structure, and we will look to play in the same manner as we do in practice, utilizing our strengths as a united team. During the Women’s Junior Asia Cup as well, we started gaining momentum and improving game by game, so we will look to play with the same confidence. We know that we are a strong team and will look to play the game on our terms,” Jyoti concluded.
posted in :