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Good showing in Tokyo will ensure more women take up the sport: Hockey goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu
New Delhi, December 5, 2020
Experienced hockey goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu has opined that good showing by the women's team in the Tokyo Olympics and at other international tournaments will attract younger players to take up the sport professionally.
"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 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 said.
Talking to Hockey India in Bengaluru, the seasoned goalkeeper said, "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 recognized. I am hopeful this will make more women take up the sport in the future," she said.
The Indian women's team was recently recognized 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 the nationwide lockdown.
Speaking about the ongoing National Coaching Camp in SAI, Bengaluru, Rajani,who hails from Andhra Pradesh, said, "We have managed to improve our level of fitness in these past four months. It is important now to ensure we maintain this fitness when we return home for a break and ensure we follow all safety protocols.
"We were lucky that none of us in the Women's Core Group tested positive after the break last time and hopefully we can maintain a clean slate this time as well," she said.
In the last four years, the Indian Women's team has not only impressed with its performances but has also climbed up the FIH world ranking.
Currently ranked world no. 9, the team has 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 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.