Bengaluru, Oct 8 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal on Friday hoped that the experience gained from playing against the best teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League will help her team in the same way as it did the mens team. The Indian womens team was on Friday included in the Pro League for the upcoming Season 3 along with Spain as a replacement for Australia and New Zealand who had pulled out because of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by their respective governments.
The other players too expressed their excitement over playing the top league which kicks off on October 13 with the first match between Olympic and World Champions, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Rani 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 in 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 making the most of this opportunity. The entire team is excited.”
Goalkeeper 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 a different combination of players ahead of important tournaments like the Asian Games in 2022 and the FIH Women’s World Cup in July 2022. We believe this experience in the Pro League will help us improve our game further,” said Savita, who recently won the FIH Woman 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. “We never got to play top teams like the 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 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.” she was quoted as saying in a release by Hockey India.
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.
The’Indian women’s team will open its FIH Pro League campaign with a double-header against the Netherlands on February 19 and 20, 2022 in an away fixture.
Besides the Netherlands, Belgium, India, and Spain, the other teams In the 9-team FIH Women’s Pro League are Germany, England, Belgium, Argentina, and United States.