Harpal Singh Bedi
With just two weeks remaining for the all-important FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers to be held in Bhubaneswar on 1st and 2nd November, the Indian Women’s team is all set for the best of two matches showdown against the formidable USA.
This is the first time the Indian Women’s Team will be playing at the Kalinga Stadium and their eagerness and excitement to experience the electrifying atmosphere often created by the hockey-crazy spectators here is palpable.
Skipper Rani Rampaul summed it up “We have been looking forward to play here for a long time now. This is a dream come true moment for many of us and we thoroughly enjoyed our first session of training at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday. We are hopeful hockey lovers from this region will come to support us in our quest to make the qualification for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
In a bid to give his team a feel of the home conditions and atmosphere, Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne has emphasised on the two high-intensity practice sessions which take place on 19th and 26th October at the Kalinga Stadium, where fans will get the chance to watch the girls play live, and perhaps even get to meet their favourite stars.
“At this stage, it is important to tick all the boxes to make sure we have done everything that we could to be at our best for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha,” Marijne said.
“I want the athletes to have an idea of the kind of atmosphere they will be playing in on match days. We have opened two of our training sessions on Saturdays in the lead up to the event, so that the players can get a feel of the environment here and it will also give the fans an opportunity to show their support for the Indian Women’s Team,”
Speaking about the next two weeks in Bhubaneswar Marijne said, “We built a good rhythm during our tour to England where the matches against Great Britain was challenging and it was also an enriching experience – much needed ahead of the important qualifiers. I think we are in that perfect rhythm at the moment and I want the players to build on this momentum. We are training one session every day and I am quite happy with the energy and confidence the girls are showing.”