Experienced goalkeeper in the Indian women’s hockey team Rajani Etimarpu feels that good results in the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for next year, will help in attracting more women players to take up the sport in the country.
The team led by Rani also secured a berth for their second consecutive Olympic Games by winning the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019, the first time in history that the team will participate in back-to-back Olympic Games.
“Doing well in the Tokyo Olympic Games will certainly lift the profile of the sport and it will certainly encourage more women to take up hockey,” said Rajani who was part of the Indian team that participated in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
“The recognition that the Indian women’s hockey has received in these past few years through various awards has already spurred participation of women in the sport and we are certain that through our good performance more women will feel that hockey can be a viable career option,” she added.
In the last four years, the Indian team has improved its performance by leaps and bounds, something which has reflected in their FIH rankings as well. Currently ranked world no.9, the Indian eves have won significant tournaments such as Asia Cup in 2017, Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 and they won a silver medal in the 2018 edition of the Asian Champions Trophy.
The team was recently recognised with the Vogue Women of the Year 2020 award (sports category) for their philanthropic efforts to raise funds to feed over 1,000 families whose lives were affected due to the pandemic and series of nationwide lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think the team has done remarkably well over the past four years. We have been able to up our level of performance against some of the best teams in the world and at the same time, we have also engaged in social causes like raising funds for the poor and needy during this pandemic. It feels great that our efforts on and off the field are being recognised. I am hopeful this will make more women take up the sport in the future,” said the 30-year-old.