The 26-year-old reflected on the positives from the Argentian tour.

The Indian women’s hockey team will return to New Delhi on 3 February after playing their first competitive tour since February 2020. Rani Rampal led the team to three draws and four loses during the Argentina tour.

“In all three matches against the senior women, it was very closely contested, and the matches could have gone either way. Even the match where we lost 0-2, Argentina were very effective, but our quality of play was very high in that game. Overall, this tour has helped us gain that confidence of playing against a top side like Argentina,” expressed chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

“We had the chance to experience what it takes to beat a team like Argentina and the areas we need to focus on to succeed against a quality side. This is a positive step in our preparations for the Olympic Games.”

One of the key aspects of the tour was to provide ample exposure to some of the young players in the core group who are yet to gain experience at the international level. Marijne remarked, “This tour was also about giving players who don’t have much international experience the chance to show their level. This is a long-term process, and it is important for the future of the team.”

Speaking about the players’ experience against Argentina, Skipper Rani Rampal said, “In 2017 when we played against Argentina at the World League semifinal, we stood no chance of coming close to them. We couldn’t go into their circle; we couldn’t create opportunities or PCs.”

Rani Rampal stated, “I remember, before going into matches against top teams like Argentina, we would tell each other that we should just try and keep the semifinal but now we go into these matches wanting to win. There’s a big difference now and with a little more change to our game, we can definitely beat top teams. The whole experience of the tour was fantastic, and we know the level we are at despite a year-long break in competitions due to covid-19.”

After returning to India, the core group will have a two-week break before regrouping at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru campus for the national coaching camp. Marijne feels the Argentina tour will be an ideal benchmark to improve in the days leading up to the Olympic Games.

“We are very grateful to Hockey India and SAI for organizing this tour under such circumstances. Once we return to Bengaluru, we will evaluate these matches again and use this as a benchmark to make further progress in our performance. This tour has surely helped a lot,” he concluded.