India skipper captain Salima Tete feels several youngsters making their senior debuts at the FIH Pro League 2022 will benefit the team when it competes in the upcoming Junior Women’s World Cup.
Youngsters including Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Deepika, Sangita Kumari and Bichu Devi Kharibam made their senior team debuts at the FIH Hockey Pro League.
Salima explained how this experience has helped the team ahead of the marquee age-group tournament.
“We had a practice match with the senior team, which really helped us a lot. A lot of players in our squad also received opportunities to make their debuts at the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/22.
“We have taken full advantage of these opportunities to motivate ourselves and be ready for the tournament. We have also had some very good training sessions and everyone has been really helpful in grooming this team,” Salima said.
The 20-member Indian team has been preparing for the tournament, which was postponed to this year due to the omicron threat in South Africa.
The event is scheduled to begin on April 1 in Potchefstroom, South Africa, with India facing Wales in their first game of the season on April 2.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Salima opened up on her role as the captain and how the team has been preparing for the tournament.
“As a captain, I will look to help my teammates at any point they need me to step in. I will also look to make good combinations with the players,” Salima said.
“We have a few experienced players in our team including Lalremsiami, Sharmila, and Ishika Chaudhary. We will all discuss together how we can take the team forward and improve our gameplay together. My role will be to take the team together alongside me,” she added.
The Indian team is grouped in Pool D along with Germany, Malaysia, and Wales. After the Welsh challenge, India will play Germany on April 3, followed by their last group-stage match on April 5 against Malaysia.
Ishika Chaudhary, who has been named as the vice-captain of the team, said that she is feeling confident about being included in the leadership group.
“I feel confident of being named as the Vice-Captain of the team. We have a lot of support from every corner. We have been playing together for some time. As a team, we have a good understanding.
“We are also young, so we are very excited and full of energy. Hence, I know I have the support system that I need to help me with the responsibility and I cannot wait for the tournament to begin,” Ishika said.
Lalremsiami, who has been an integral part of the India senior women’s team for the past few years, also spoke about her experience of playing at the senior level could help her and the team in the prestigious event.
“There are a few players in our team who don’t have as much game experience. My biggest role would be to guide these players and to help them adapt to the pressure.
“I will look to help the team in recognising when we have to go for the attack, and when we need to defend, and will take any and every responsibility that comes my way,” the 20-year-old added.
The tournament was originally slated to take place in December 2021.
Sharmila Devi spoke on the four-month break and said that the delay helped the team as they got time to work on areas where they needed to improve upon.
“The four-month break has been sort of an advantage as it gives us more time for practice and to prepare ourselves for the World Cup. We have worked on our penalty corners, defence a lot in this time, which was one area that we needed to improve,” she said.