Over the years several young girls have made it to the Indian Hockey team and the latest one to achieve that feat was Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke. Vaishnavi has been putting in consistent performances for the Junior Women’s team and hence she was handed her debut in Cape Town. She was stunning in India’s recent Tour of South Africa as he scored three goals in total as the hosts.
The Indian eves overall picked up three wins and a draw against the home side whereas they played three more matches against the Netherlands and Vaishnavi scored in the first match against the World No.1.
Vaishnavi shared that she did not expect coach Janneke Schopman to announce her name for the South Africa tour and neither did she expect to make her senior team debut. She highlighted that she was very nervous going into the tour and even just thinking about the challenge of facing a quality team like the Netherlands.
“I was quite surprised when Chief Coach Janneke announced my name in the squad for South Africa. I didn’t expect to get a call-up for the Senior side so early. It also made me quite nervous that I would be playing against a top team like Netherlands,” Vaishnavi shared her thoughts.
However she stated how the seniors players made her feel like home and gave her confidence which helped her in her stride. She also added that scoring against top teams gave her massive confidence as she felt that she belonged to this level. “I spoke to the Senior players and also Janneke before the match and they really calmed my nerves. They asked me to play simple hockey and not play with any pressure. That gave me some confidence and also scoring goals against quality teams automatically helps you gain confidence,” the youngster added.
Vaishnavi is from a humble background as she is a daughter of a farmer from the Satara district in Maharashtra. She picked up hockey as her sport when she joined the Government Sports Academy in Pune. Since then she has toiled hard for every opportunity and after plying her trade for the Juniors for three years she made it to the senior team.
“We were given one year to try different sports and eventually we had to pick one as our choice to pursue. Although my Coaches there wanted me to take up athletics as a walker, I absolutely enjoyed hockey and had picked up the skills over a span of nine months in the academy so I ended up choosing hockey,” she recalled.
Once she got into the National Junior Camp, she did not look back as she had enough talent to make a mark. She represented India at the FIH Junior Hockey Women’s World Cup in South Africa last year. She also featured in the Chile Tour with the team and as well as in the 5 Nations tour in Ireland.
However, now her focus is to learn from the senior players and make full use of the National camp as she is looking to improve her game. “Now my focus is on taking my performance to the next level, learn from the Senior players in the team and make the best of the opportunity in the National Camp,” the youngster concluded.