CWG 2018: We believe we can beat anyone, says Rani Rampal

The arrival of chief coach Harendra Singh has instilled self-belief in the side, says India women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal.

Rani Rampal: "Earlier we used to wonder when would fans start expecting podium finish from us. The time has come. Women empowerment."   -  K. Murali Kumar

She played a World Cup at 15. And eight years down the line, Rani Rampal is now the face of Indian women’s hockey, exuding infectious confidence on the eve of the team’s departure for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

As captain, she carries enormous responsibilities, apart from the pressure of performing in her position as a key goal scorer. “We have had some good results in recent times. We are confident and motivated. Self- belief has been the biggest gain after coach Harendra (Singh) took over.

READ: Rani to captain India for C’wealth Games

"Winning habit and mental toughness have also changed the way we approach the game now. The coach tells us we can beat any team under the sky and we believe him,” said Rani.

'Happy to have Indian chief coach'

Harendra’s arrival has meant a lot to the team. “Frequent change of coaches can impact (performance) because all have different styles. We were happy to have an Indian as the chief coach because he brings experience and also language is not a barrier anymore.”

Reflecting on the team’s progress in the last couple of years, Rani noted, “We have worked on mistakes. Consistency has improved. Defence is strong now. Training has been good. We need matches to give perfection to our training. Try out new combinations.”

And how about the women’s team enjoying greater expectations of a gold this time than the men’s team. “Expectations motivate you. I don’t think they create pressure. Earlier we used to wonder when would fans start expecting podium finish from us. The time has come. Women empowerment,” she smiles.

'We need more competition'

Rani, 23, cites the example of women’s cricket team. “Look at cricket. World Cup has changed the team’s fortunes. Women’s hockey needs something like that. Like (P.V.) Sindhu and Saina (Nehwal). Maybe, women’s league can help sometime in the future. We need more competition.”

Striking an optimistic note, Rani added, “I welcome comparisons (with the men’s team). In 2002 we won the CWG gold. Men don’t have it yet. Our target is to regain the gold. We have the capability to do it. We are hungry for success.”