- India may have won the final of the women’s Asia Cup hockey tournament against China in a penalty shootout, but it was a fully deserving victory. Throughout their campaign in Japan, team members played out of their skin to register the win, which has secured them a spot in next year’s World Cup emphatically on merit, not as wild-card entrants. –
- The triumph came against formidable hurdles, and in the absence of any expectations. Indian women were never the favourites, going into the tournament ranked 12th in the world and fourth in Asia — behind World No. 8 China, Korea and Japan. Incidentally, India defeated defending champion Japan in the semi-finals. This happened despite a degree of pre-tournament disarray. The team lost its second coach in the space of a year, and Harendra Singh came to the assignment just a month before the Asia Cup, that too with no previous experience of having worked with a women’s hockey team. The team had other issues to grapple with as well; the fitness and skill levels had slipped. The lack of expectations, sadly, was clear from the fact that there was no live telecast, not even online streaming. Such live updates as there were came via social media.-
- The hockey federations must heed this victory and use this occasion to considerably scale up support to the women’s game. The insistence on appointing foreign coaches, despite the clear discomfort and disconnect among the women in matters of communication, has unnecessarily cost India too much time. The inadequate competitive exposure made available for the team was unfortunate. Unlike the men, women players start early; some in the senior team are as young as 16. Their careers often end early. That the women, most of them in their early 20s, still continue to go out and give their best is a testament to their dedication. Railways remains the biggest provider of employment — but goalkeeper Savita Punia, the star of the final, and a veteran of over 100 matches and perhaps Asia’s best, is yet to get a job. Harendra Singh has his work cut out too. He has a reputation for being obsessed with results. He is a disciplinarian who has the ability to coax the best from his players, lead from the front and put in the hard yards. In fact, it is a reflection of the team’s hard work, dedication, discipline and focus on the game that someone who is regarded as the most difficult Indian coach to work with is already in awe of his players. The road ahead is arduous, and 2018 will be crucial for the women and men, with the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games as well as an Olympic spot to be secured through the Asian Games. Captain Rani Rampal’s girls have shown they can do it.
Triumph: a great victory or achievement.
Example: A garden built to celebrate Napoleon’s many triumphs
Synonyms: victory, win, conquest, success, achievement, feat
Formidable: inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.
Example: A formidable opponent
Synonyms: intimidating, forbidding, daunting, disturbing, alarming
Disarray: a state of disorganization or untidiness.
Example: Her gray hair was in disarray
Synonyms: disorder, confusion, chaos, untidiness, disorganization
Grapple: engage in a close fight or struggle without weapons; wrestle.
Example: Passersby grappled with the man after the knife attack
Synonyms: wrestle, struggle, tussle, brawl, fight, scuffle, battle
Heed: careful attention.
Example: If he heard, he paid no heed
Synonyms: attention, notice, note, regard, consideration, thought, care
Insistence: the fact or quality of insisting that something is the case or should be done.
Example: His insistence on unilateral nuclear disarmament
Inadequate: lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.
Example: These labels prove to be wholly inadequate
Synonyms: insufficient, deficient, poor, scant, scanty, scarce, sparse, in short supply
Testament: something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.
Example: Growing attendance figures are a testament to the event’s popularity
Synonyms: testimony, witness, evidence, proof, attestation, demonstration
Arduous: Involving or requiring strenuous effort; difficult and tiring.
Example: An arduous journey
Synonyms: onerous, taxing, difficult, hard, heavy, laborious, burdensome