I am enjoying the role of a mentor, says Vandana Katariya

With training activities shut because of the COVID-19 lockdown, Vandana said currently the team's focus is on physical fitness and analysis of opponents.

Vandana Katariya receiving an award. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Indian women’s hockey team striker Vandana Katariya believes she has evolved as a player over the last 13 years and is currently enjoying the role of a mentor in a side that figures quite a lot of youngsters.

“When I had started off at the age of 15, I was always very fearless. I would try to use my skills, retain possession for as long as possible and then aim for goal. But with time, I realised that you can’t play like that, especially when the sport has evolved so much. I also had to evolve,” said Vandana, who made her senior debut in 2007.

“Now with experience, and with the influx of so many young players in the team, I really enjoy the mentoring bit. I know I have the experience which can be helpful to the younger players, and I keep talking to them about different situations that they will face on the field, and what all they can do.

“It is not as if I want them to follow exactly what I say, but I try to make them use their vision and think for themselves about what decisions they can make,” added the 28-year-old from Uttarakhand, who has over 240 international caps for India.

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With training activities shut because of the coronavirus-forced national lockdown, Vandana said currently the team's focus is on physical fitness and analysis of opponents.

“Obviously the main thing for all of us is always to play hockey on the field, but this time has given us the chance to focus on other key factors which make a team so successful. We haven’t been able to be on the pitch, but our minds are always on the pitch,” she said.

“We are trying to maintain our fitness levels as best as we can, so that when we are back, we are sharper than our opponents. Another aspect which has been talked about is how we are able to analyse different teams.”

Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams are currently stuck at SAI centre in Bengaluru.

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Vandana also emphasised on the need to remain positive in these difficult times.

“Our chief coach Sjoerd Marijne has been very vocal about having mindfulness, and that has also made us realise a lot of things. We feel we are at a stature where we can end up helping other people too which we did through our crowdfunding initiative,” she said.

“We are lucky to have such great facilities at our disposal. We understand that not many people are blessed with this, and therefore it is a chance for us to make full use of what we have.”

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