Former Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal has been excluded from India’s 34-member probables for the 2023 Asian Games which was announced by Hockey India recently.
Rani has featured in 254 international matches for India and was also the captain of the side that finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics. She has also scored 140 goals since her debut as a 14-year-old kid back in 2009.
The veteran was sidelined due to an injury and missed most of the 2022 season. She missed the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup in Spain and Netherlands followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
While she was sidelined Indian goalkeeper Savita Punia became the captain and guided the team to the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
She returned to the Indian team during their South Africa tour and played all four Test matches and scored three goals in January this year. However, she has not featured for India since then. But Punia kept her captaincy even when Rani Rampal was in the squad.
Recently Hockey India appointed her as the head coach of the India U-17 team but she clarified her stance by saying that taking up a coaching role does not mean she is retiring as a player.
“I am not retiring since I know I still have more to give to the sport as a player,” Rani Rampal said. “I have this thing in me to not give up. If I had to, I would have given up after the Olympics. I accepted this (the coaching role) since it is a short-term programme.”
The 34-member core probables for the Asian Games are currently in the national camp in SAI Bengaluru. Chief coach Janneke Schopman believes that the team is growing from strength to strength. “We have showcased in our recent competitions that we are growing as a team and are constantly learning,” Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman said.
She feels that the national camp will be important to be aligned in the same direction. She will also be working on players getting comfortable with the kind of hockey she wants to play. “We will focus on ensuring all the players are comfortable in playing the kind of hockey that we want to play. It is important that all of us are on the same page before the all-important competition ahead for us,” she added.
The national camp will end on September 18, five days before the start of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. However India will start their campaign against Singapore on September 27.