India and Spain will replace Australia and New Zealand who pulled out of this season due to Covid-19.
The Indian women’s hockey team were elated after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced that India and Spain will replace Australia and New Zealand who pulled out of the FIH Hockey Pro League season 3.
The team expressed their excitement about joining the world’s best teams to compete for the coveted title this season which kicks off on 13 October with the first match between Olympic champions the Netherlands and Belgium.
Rani Rampal said, “This is great news for us. We have seen how much the exposure at the FIH Hockey Pro League helped our male counterparts from the Indian team. They got to play the best teams of the world, and I believe that helped them take their game to the next level. Likewise, the Indian Women’s team is also looking forward to make the most out of this opportunity. The entire team is excited.”
Savita, on the other hand, stated that this exposure will help increase the talent pool in the Indian team. “We have some very talented junior players coming into the core group. Playing regular matches against top teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League will help the team try different combination of players ahead of important tournaments like the Asian Games in 2022 and the FIH Women’s World Cup in 2023. We believe this experience in the Pro League will help us improve our game further,” stated the goalkeeper who won the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award.
Two-time Olympian Monika too joined her teammates in reflecting their enthusiasm to play the FIH Hockey Pro League this season. She said, “We never got to play top teams like Netherlands as often as we would have liked to. Before our first match at the Tokyo Olympics against the World no.1 team, we had played them just once more than three or four years ago. But being part of the FIH Hockey Pro League this season will give us the perfect opportunity to test our abilities against top teams. We are looking are all very happy to be included for this season and hope to make the opportunity count.”
Youngster Sharmila Devi who won the FIH Rising Star of the Year also stated that this will be a great opportunity for young players like her in the team. “Playing top teams of the world will provide youngsters like me great exposure. Something we wanted to work on before the Asian Games was to perform under pressure. The FIH Hockey Pro League will be a great experience in that aspect and we are very excited about it,” she said.
Sharmila’s contemporary in the team, Lalremsiami too expressed excitement over playing highly competitive teams in world hockey. “It’s so exciting that we will get to play world’s best teams like Netherlands, Belgium, Argentina, England, Germany. It will be a great learning experience particularly for youngsters in the squad,” Lalremsiami said.
Indian women’s team will play on the same dates and venues as their male counterparts, who are already part of FIH’s global home-and-away league, which involves most of the best nations in world hockey.