The women’s team chief coach also revealed that the team does not want to be remembered as a one-time wonder.

Following an impressive Tokyo Olympics campaign in 2021, the India team are is set to defend their title in the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup in Muscat in 2022. The team pulled one of the biggest upsets at the Olympics as they beat the Australian side. They finished fourth at the tournament and narrowly missed out on the medals but established themselves as a team to watch out for in the future. 

Ahead of their title defence, chief coach Janneke Schopman and captain Savita Punia spoke to the press regarding their preparations, the upcoming tournament and more.

On Tokyo Olympics

Speaking on the aftermath of their successful Tokyo Olympics campaign, chief coach Schopman felt the team believes they can become the best in the world.

“We went to the Tokyo Olympics not knowing where we stood. We still have some games to make towards the top six in the world. I think we as a team got the belief that there is a place for Indian women at the top of Women’s World Hockey. But we need to keep improving,” he began.

“The girls want to perform year in year out. They don’t want to be a one-time fly,” he added. 

Preparations ahead of the tournament

Janneke Schopman has recently been appointed as the chief coach of the India women’s hockey team. She is determined to defend the title that would grant them a direct qualification to FIH Women’s World Cup.

“We started camp in September and I think the group is quite keen to play hockey again and focus on what they love. I have continued to focus on some of the things we have achieved at the Tokyo Olympics,” she revealed.

“I am quite happy with the intent and how the girls are invested as a team and as individuals,” she continued.

The 44-year-old tactician also explained her plan to bring a balance between attack and defence. Schopman also shared the learnings the team have taken from Tokyo and the road ahead.

“I want to work on our individual game and try to be dominant over the opponents. As a coach, I have a clear philosophy. I would like us to be more dominant when in possession,” she said.

“We need to work our game and strike a balance between attack and defence. The thing which we have learnt from Tokyo is that we need to focus on what we can control and can do ourselves. We need to figure out what we are good at on the pitch and work on our shortcomings,” she added.

Mood of the Camp 

With Rani recovering, Savita Punia is set to lead the Indian women’s hockey team at the upcoming Women’s Hockey Asia Cup 2022. Talking about the ambience in the camp, Savita looked high in spirits and confidence.

“The mood in the camp is high. We did well in the Olympics but we know we can do better. Our main goal is to focus on us more than our opponents. We gained the motivation from the Olympics, that we can do a lot better than we did,” she explained.

The need for a balance

Savita also emphasised on the need for finding the perfect balance in order to succeed in the future. “With Rani in rehab and Lillima retiring, we know hockey needs both experienced and young players. We started this thing where whether you are experienced or new, you take up leadership responsibilities given to you. We are going in a good way,” she stated.

“Everyone is practicing their best. All we can hope is that Rani comes back soon,” she concluded.

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