Bengaluru: Striker Navneet Kaur believes the upswing in the recent performance of the Indian women's hockey team is due to the change in attitude and the fighting spirit which has been instilled by chief coach Sjoerd Marijne. That is why they never give up during a match until the final whistle.
"Earlier, we feared playing against top teams like Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia. We lacked that match-winning confidence and this was perhaps why many teams even considered us as underdogs," said Navneet.
But over the last two years in particular, there has been a major shift in how the team prepares against a tough opponent. "Apart from winning important matches, I think there are a lot of other factors that have contributed to this change and one of them is chief coach Sjoerd's style of play."
"He likes aggression, he has instilled that belief in us that we are a team that can play with good speed in our attack," she said.
"The chief coach always tells us it's not over until the last whistle. Even during the half-time of the Olympic Qualifiers, he said we will begin the third quarter as though the scores are 0-0. We have been instilled with that fighting spirit," she explained.
The team is grouped in Pool A for the Tokyo Olympic Games where they will play against top ranked teams like the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland apart from South Africa.
"We will play our first match against the Netherlands at the Olympics and quite frankly, we are really excited to play against them because we have not faced them in the past. We don't fear playing against these teams and are focused on preparing well," Navneet said.
"We are currently undergoing a week-long recovery which involves light gym session, stretching and swimming pool recovery. Resting well is also emphasised before we resume intense training from next week," she added.