This year will be extremely crucial for the Indian Women’s Hockey as they look to build on their spirited performance at the Tokyo Olympics last year. The Indian Eves will start the year by travelling to Oman where they will look to defend their Asia Cup title. The continental tournament will see the top eight teams from Asia- India, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, fight for the trophy.
This tournament is crucial for Indian Women’s Hockey as it serves as a qualifier for the FIH Women’s World Cup 2022 to be held in Spain and the Netherlands in July. The top four teams will automatically book their seats for the all important World Cup.
“In 2017, we won the Asia Cup to win direct qualification for the FIH Women’s World Cup in London. I feel that win was one of the stepping stones for us to establish steady growth in our performance in the past four years. Definitely starting the season with a good show in Asia Cup will give us the right momentum as we play back-to-back tournaments,” asserted Indian Women’s team goalkeeper Savita Punia.
It is going to be a very action packed year for the Indian Eves. After the Asia Cup, they will head back to Odisha and feature in the FIH Hockey Pro League. This will be India’s first FIH Pro League campaign and Savita feels that it is a big opportunity for the Indian ladies to test their waters against the best teams in the world.
“I think a lot of us are looking forward to the FIH Hockey Pro League matches. This will be our first outing in this prestigious League and we are absolutely looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the world. Needless to say, we are eager to play in Odisha again and to have the world’s no.1 side Netherlands travel to India for these matches is something we had never imagined,” stated an excited Savita.
The Indian women’s team will look to gain a lot of learning from the FIH Pro League as they will go up against the likes of the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and England in Bhubaneswar. They will then travel to Belgium and face Argentina, USA and Belgium in the month of June. All of these matches will be great for exposure and preparation ahead of the all important FIH World Cup.
“I feel the Pro League matches will provide us with the best exposure ahead of the World Cup (in July). Last time, we made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in many decades. With our recent performance in the Olympics, and the support we garnered, we need to live up to the expectations by doing well in these major competitions to keep the interest alive in Women’s hockey,” she concluded.