M A I N   N E W S

Olympic Qualifier
Women plan a real ‘Chak De’
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Shahbad Markanda, March 20
When the Indian women’s hockey team leaves for St. Petersburg, Russia, next month to play in the Olympic qualifier on April 16, they hope of coming back with the winner’s medal.

The team that has been selected for the Russian tournaments will have seven players from Shahbad Markanda, the only women’s hockey nursery of the colony today.

This is the same team that had refused the ‘Chak De…’ movie team to shoot in Shahbad Markanda and also give any of their girls for the movie to act.

Surinder Kaur, Suman Bala (vice-captain), Rajinder Kaur, Gagandeep Kaur, Surinder Kaur, Jasjeet Kaur, Ritu Rani and Rani Devi of Shahbad are part of the team.

In fact, another girl, Joydeep Kaur, too would have made it to the Olympic qualifier but an unfortunate twisted ligament in her foot has prevented her from participating in the event. Though disappointed with her own injury, Joydeep is confident that her teammates will bring good news from Russia to mitigate the remorse of Santiago. “We will keep our national pride afloat,” she states and ensures that India and hockey remain synonyms. We will also make up for the loss that the men’s team has suffered,” she adds.

Last time Indian women’s hockey team played in Olympics was in Moscow in 1980 where the team, led by Rupa Saini, missed a bronze medal by a whisker. Incidentally, Rupa Saini is now the observer of the union ministry of sports for women’s hockey.

“We can make it in women’s hockey,” agrees Baldev Singh, the coach credited with bringing this sleepy town, 30 km from Ambala, on the international hockey arena. Perhaps there is no other women’s hockey centre in the world today, which has produced 26 international players in 15 years.

“I am confident that my girls, including Rani, the youngest at 13 and a half years old and a centre forward, on view in contemporary women’s hockey would restore laurels which the men’s hockey team enjoyed for a number of years,” he states.

“In fact, women’s team has been doing well. It won silver in Commonwealth games in Melbourne and bronze in Doha Asiad. The men’s team in both these tournaments never ended without a medal,” he added.



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