New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) They have battled prejudices, social biases, caste discrimination, hostile attitude and many other hurdles because of lack of infrastructure and a lot of other hardships as they tried to create a path for themselves in sports.
Their families have been made fun of, faced snide remarks for allowing them to play sports and breaking the mould and crossing bastions.
Indian women’s hockey team players Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur and Gurjit Kaur, who played a vital role in the national team’s fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics last year, on Tuesday said that with self-belief women can achieve anything in the world.
They said that though things have improved a lot from the time they started playing hockey, there is still a need to encourage more girls to take sports and play a role in India’s success in the field.
The three players spoke about the growth in the number of youngsters taking up the game of hockey post their fantastic performance.
Speaking during a virtual press conference on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, forward Vandana Katariya said, “After the Olympics, it has been fantastic to see over 250 athletes play the game of hockey in Roshnabad (Uttarakhand) and the majority of the 250 athletes are girls. It feels great to see the popularity of hockey and everyone in my hometown also tells me the rules of the game.”
When asked if she would like to share a message with women, who want to take up a sport, Katariya said, “There will be a lot of people who say a lot of things when women step out to play sports, but we shouldn’t listen to anybody. If we listen to people, then we might take a step backward. We need to believe in ourselves and keep our focus on the game intact and ignore everyone who says wrong things.”
Midfielder Navjot Kaur shared her thoughts about the change in mindset after their performance at the Tokyo Olympics. “There has certainly been a change in the mindset since the Tokyo Olympics last year. Now, all the parents want their children to play sports. Most of the parents believe that the future of their children will be better if they play sports along with focusing on their studies.”
Navjot also added that she is very proud to be working under a woman Chief Coach in the Indian women’s hockey team camp, “I am really proud that we are being coached by a woman. Chief Coach Janneke Schopman motivates us a lot. And she communicates each and everything clearly which helps us understand everything well and aids us in putting up good performances on the field.”
Defender Gurjit Kaur stressed the fact that women should always believe in themselves, “Women have a lot of power and they can do anything. Women should continue to be strong and not give up. Whatever women do, whether it’s playing sports or working in business, they should believe in themselves.”
Gurjit also said that family support is very important for any sportsperson to be successful, “If one has the support from her family, then anything is achievable. We also need to have a positive approach towards every problem we face in our lives. I know it’s easier said than done, but we need to learn how to keep a positive frame of mind in difficult circumstances.”
The Indian women’s hockey team will be next seen in action when they take on Germany in the FIH Hockey Pro League. The two teams will face off against each other in two games at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on March 12 and March 13, respectively.