Hockey stalwart Sushila Chanu is happy that she will finally make her maiden World Cup appearance on July 3 when India take on England in their first Pool B match here.
Despite having played 208 matches for the country, and represented India in back-to-back Olympics Games besides having won a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea, the Manipur-born midfielder missed the opportunity to play in the 2018 World Cup due to injury.
“In 2018, I missed playing the World Cup in London due to an injury. Subsequently, I struggled with form which resulted in me missing out on the Asian Games in Jakarta that year. It was perhaps one of the biggest lows of my career. It was a difficult phase but I was determined to overcome it and earn my place in the squad again,” said Sushila on Wednesday.
After missing out on the 2018 Asian Games, where India won silver, and the World Cup the same year, where India made the quarterfinals, Sushila returned with a bang and has become a strong force in the team’s growth over the past four years.
She was part of India’s victory at the FIH Series Finals as well as the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in Bhubaneswar. She also played a key role at the Tokyo Olympics, and then featured in India’s line-up at the Women’s Asia Cup in 2021.
Sushila achieved her 200th international cap while representing India at the FIH Women’s Pro League 2021/22 where India finished third.
“I am very happy and excited to have this opportunity to represent India at the World Cup. For many of my teammates, it’s their second outing at the World Cup but for me, it’s a first. It is an emotional moment for me and I surely believe it will be a memorable one for us,” she said on the sidelines of the team’s practice match against Chile in Amstelveen.
Speaking about the mood in the camp ahead of the clash against England, Sushila said, “We arrived in Amstelveen soon after our Pro League matches ended in Rotterdam last week. We have had enough time to settle into the team hotel and also have been training at the World Cup venue.
“Definitely everyone is pumped up and looking forward to give their 100 per cent. Netherlands is a fantastic venue for hockey and the hosts have created a great atmosphere for the participating teams. We are all looking forward to our first match and a good start against England is what we need,” added Chanu.