Bengaluru, Dec 21 (IANS) With 2020 drawing to an end, the Indian junior women’s hockey team players are setting their eyes on their targets for the upcoming year. One of their first tasks in 2021 will be to qualify for the FIH Junior Women’s World Cup, says defender Mahima Choudhary.
“What happened in 2020 is behind us now. We don’t want to think about what we missed out in 2020 due to the pandemic but we want to look ahead to 2021 with optimism. It is a crucial year for us with the FIH Junior World Cup being held in December for which we will need to qualify by winning the Junior Asia Cup scheduled to be held in April, 2021. That will be our first goal for 2021,” said Mahima.
The World Cup scheduled for December 5 to 16 next year will be held in Potchefstroom, South Africa. In addition to South Africa who qualify automatically as hosts, 15 other teams will qualify from five separate continental competitions.
“We are happy to be back in the national camp and train in a bio-secure environment. We are slowly getting back to our previous rhythm and are mentally and physically focused on doing well at the Junior Asia Cup. In the previous edition of the Junior Asia Cup in 2015, India had finished fourth. We want to better the result this time by finishing on the podium and securing a qualification for the FIH Junior World Cup,” said Mahima.
Training in the same campus as their senior counterparts, the defender feels there is a lot to watch and learn from the work ethics of the Indian women’s team.
“Over the past couple of years, the senior team has set the benchmark high for us to emulate. Having succeeded in continental championships and improving their world ranking too, they have inspired us all along. Getting to watch them train closely as we are housed in the same campus is a big learning experience for all of us in the junior core group. The work ethics of some of the senior players is awe-inspiring and I feel a great sense of motivation to improve my own performance when I watch them train,” said Mahima.
While her compatriot from her home club in Sonipat, Sharmila has already graduated to the senior core group and has played key international tournaments such as the Olympic Qualifiers in 2019, Mahima feels her time will come too but for now she needs to remain focused on doing well for the junior team.
“Yes, Sharmila came into the junior core group two years after me and now she already plays for the senior team. i am happy for her. Hardwork and good performance gets due recognition and I believe my time will come too. I just need to be patient and work hard on my own game and execute what’s expected of me,” said Mahima.