Indian women’s hockey team’s penalty corner specialist Deepika feels the training stint at the national camp under former drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh will help her in taking decisions in match situations during the upcoming Asian Games.
Deepika, who hails from Hisar, Haryana, is one of three drag flickers available to Chief Coach Janneke Schopman for penalty corners. She scored seven goals in six games at the Women’s Junior Asia Cup, four of which came from penalty corners.
“We’ve been working on drag flicking with Rupinder Pal Singh in camp for a few days now; he’s got us working on beating the first rusher, showing us where the ball can be stopped, and how to release if the ball is stopped on the sides. All of this help will undoubtedly help me in match situations during the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.”
“I don’t feel under pressure to score by flicking, all the players let me focus on my skill and encourage me to keep the shot on goal as much as I can.”
The Asian Games spot was a pleasant surprise to the 19-year-old, who didn’t expect to make it.
“With everyone vying for a spot, I never expected to make the team, and I was ecstatic when I found out. It’s my first time going to a big tournament, and I was a little nervous at first, but chief coach and the senior players have kept me grounded.”
“My father has had a few sleepless nights since he found out, I suppose because he can’t believe it’s actually happening, but seeing him as happy as a child when he was in Bengaluru for the send-off ceremony was very fulfilling. He himself said he didn’t think I’d be chosen, but he is extremely proud of everything I’m accomplishing,” she added.
Deepika, picked up the hockey stick in 2012 on her way to wrestling practice with her brother, and after years, she has made the cut for the Indian women’s team, that will compete in the upcoming Asian Games, beginning on September 23.
“My family has always been supportive of my hockey career; even though a lot was said about me when I first started playing, my father never let it reach my ears. And after my first Sub Junior National Championships in 2017, they started motivating me even more, their belief in me was visible.”
Deepika’s initial appearance with the Junior Indian women’s hockey team as a forward was to the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in March 2018. She has since competed in the FIH Hockey women’s junior World Cup 2021 in Potchefstroom, South Africa, where India finished fourth, as well as the Women’s Junior Asia Cup team, where India won gold.
The Indian team is placed in Pool A for the 19th Asian Games and will face Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong China, and Singapore in the group stage.
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