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'Felt very rewarding…' - India forward Sharmila Devi reflects on time outside national team and scoring on return

Published at :June 20, 2024 at 3:58 AM
Modified at :June 20, 2024 at 3:58 AM
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(Courtesy : Hockey India)

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Sharmila Devi made her return to national team after nine months in February this year.

Making a comeback is always something that requires a lot of character and Indian women’s hockey team forward Sharmila Devi sure has plenty of it. After representing the country last in May 2023 during a test series against Australia, Sharmila found herself playing in Indian colours after close to nine months when she took the field against China in February 2024 during the Women’s FIH Pro League 2023-24.

Speaking about how she endured such a long time away from the national side, the young forward from Haryana said, “It wasn’t easy. I didn’t get to play for the national side for close to nine months. After the test series against Australia, I got to play for the team in the FIH Pro League in February 2024, missing out on the Asian Games and Olympic Qualifiers. Those were trying times, but I stayed strong mentally and patiently waited for my chance while training hard.”

Sharmila was determined to make a comeback into the national side and worked on her game during her time away from the side. She said, “I worked on my game day in and day out. I wanted to become the best player I could be. I was very clear that that was the only way back and that I had to give it my all. So that’s exactly what I did. While working on my skills as a forward, I also worked on the defensive aspects of the game.”

When the Indian women’s hockey team took on China in their first game of the Women’s FIH Pro League 2023-24, Sharmila Devi finally got her chance to take the field. Describing this joyous moment, she said, “I was more than excited to be wearing the Indian jersey once again. It felt very rewarding for all the work that was put in. I would have been happier if we had won that game, but it was unfortunately not meant to be.”

The Indian women’s hockey team played out several matches that had spectators on the edge of their seats during the FIH Pro League 2023-24. One such match was the game against Great Britain which India lost 2-3 after putting up a splendid fight with Sharmila Devi netting India’s second goal of the game.

“They took a two-goal lead early in the game and had us on the back foot straight away. When we scored our first goal in the third quarter, we were pumped. We put a lot of pressure on them in the final quarter and we got them to break, setting up the perfect opportunity for us to equalize and I used that chance. They managed to take the lead soon after and we couldn’t score another one, but it was a thrilling game. I only wish we could’ve won that match,” she said, reminiscing about the closely fought contest.

Sharmila vows to continue to put in her best efforts to get better at the game and help the Indian women’s hockey team attain even more success. “Every time we step onto the field, we give our hundred percent. This is something I have always done and will continue to do so. I will work hard to consistently do well for the national team and help us win more and more games as time goes by,” she concluded.

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