The Indian women’s hockey team had a few anxious hours on Saturday. Despite beating South Africa 4-3 in the final group game, the team had to wait for a favourable result from the match between Great Britain and Ireland.
India coach Sjoerd Marijne, who said the game was “bad for his heart”, walked around the athlete’s village, where he bumped into a few of his players. “It was quite funny. We weren’t too keen to watch the game. The wi-fi does not connect everywhere in the village. So that was good,” he told Sportstar .
Marijne finished his walk, but the Great Britain game was still on. “I went to the gym and worked out a little extra just to be busy and take my mind off the game. A friend of mine was texting me, and Great Britain was leading 2-0, and I said, ‘text me only if Great Britain scores’.”
Skipper Rani Rampal wanted the game to end. “Our hearts were pounding, and we wanted the game to be over as soon as possible.”
Marijne’s wife informed the coach that Ireland had lost 2-0. India had made it to the knockouts of women’s hockey for the first time in the history of the Games. “It was an emotional moment, and she’s always there for me,” he said. “They (players) were thrilled. We had a big hug and had a circle, and I said, ‘Listen, girls, enjoy the moment. This is what we are doing it for. All the training we’ve done at SAI Bengaluru (Sports Authority of India) and the time we spent in lockdown; it all comes to this.”
Marijne is keen to make this his Chak De India moment. “I’ve watched the movie, and I am writing a book on my journey with the women’s team. Just like in the movie, this has so many experiences. I came here to put women’s hockey on the map, and that’s where we are headed,” he said.
The Indians will face Australia – still undefeated in the tournament – in the quarterfinals. The Aussies have scored 13 goals and conceded just once in the group stage. However, Marijne feels the pressure will be on the world’s second-ranked team.
“I’ve told the team to enjoy the quarterfinal. The competition is wide open now, none of the earlier points count. The pressure is with Australia, not with us,” said Marijne.