Gurjit Kaur: I became a dragflicker for team’s sake

Indian women's hockey team's chief dragflicker Gurjit Kaur revealed that she learnt the art of dragflick only after making the senior team.

Dragflicker Gurjit Kaur (Center) has scored 11 of the 29 goals India has scored at the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima. (File Photo)   -  AFP

The Indian women’s hockey team returned home to a rousing welcome on Monday after remaining unbeaten throughout its triumphant campaign at the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima, scoring 29 goals and conceding just four.

Of the total 29 goals India scored, 11 were netted by dragflicker Gurjit Kaur, who played a significant role in helping India seal a berth for the Olympic qualifiers for 2020 Tokyo Games.

Kaur found the back of the net 10 times from short corners while one was scored from the penalty spot.

The 23-year old said that she mastered the art of dragflick after making the senior national squad as the team needed a penalty corner specialist.

“I was selected for the junior team but my first tour was with the senior side. I didn’t know much about dragflicking at that time, but I tried to gain knowledge about it as our team needed an experienced dragflicker. I feel there is more to be learnt. I also have to work on my speed,” Kaur said.

Kaur trained under renowned Dutch coach Toon Siepman, who also mentored Pakistani great Sohail Abbas and Netherlands' Mink van der Weerden among many. Siepman helped Kaur improve her balance and taught her how to generate power through front-foot positioning.

“Toon was a great dragflicker during his time. I used to make minor errors which I wasn’t aware of and it was he (Toon) who helped me recognise my mistakes. He told me how to use my first foot, what could be the movement and how to use my hands swiftly so that the ball travels faster towards the net. He helped me improve a lot.”

Gurjit Kaur is the 5th Indian women's player to score ten goals or more in a single tournament in Women's hockey.

Rajbir Kaur - 16 - 1982 Asian Games, , New Delhi

Surinder Kaur - 13 - 2007 Asia Cup, Hong Kong

Gurjit Kaur - 11 - 2019 Hockey Series Finals, Hiroshima

Vandana Kataria - 11 - 2015 World League Round 2, New Delhi

Prem Maya - 10 - 1985 World Cup Qualifier, Buenos Aires

(Stats Courtesy: B.G. Joshi)

 

Kaur also wants to impart her skills to the junior girls. “I am making the junior ones learn dragflick better. I enjoy teaching them the skills,” she said.

Most of the teams at the FIH Women’s Series Finals were lower-ranked when compared to India, but Kaur felt it was not because of their rankings that her team comfortably won the tournament.

“We take all the team as same irrespective of their rankings, as any team which participates in an international event gives their best on the turf. We won the tournament because of the hard labour we put in. Had we taken them (opponents) lightly, may be we could have lost due to over-confidence,” she asserted.

Kaur, however, said the mission was far from over as now the team's sole focus is on the Olympic qualifiers.

“We have just completed one mission and the next one is on cards. We will face many strong teams in the qualifiers and will try to deliver our best once again. Our team is ready for the major challenge,” she said.

The Indian women’s team will return to the national coaching camp at the SAI facility in Bengaluru on July 15 to prepare for the Olympic test event in Japan. The goalkeepers will return on July 8 for a special week-long camp before their compatriots join them for the national camp.