#ByInvitation: Naaz Shah -Indian Women Must Go For Gold In Hockey

Women's Hockey - Team India
Image Source: indianwomenblog.org

The Asian Games have come and gone and the dream of the Gold in Women’s hockey seems to still elude us.

The only Gold was won in 1982, the year it was introduced into the competition. Now 36 years on, the competition has grown and other Asian teams have become better at the game than they were in 1982, but so have we in terms of facilities, exposure, coaching and support staff etc which our players now have access to.

I was greatly excited with India’s performance at the Women’s World Cup in London this year. We had a good finish in terms of previous records. However, there too we faltered where it mattered.

A team with nothing in terms of records or successes came from out of the blue and knocked us out of the top 4 continuing to the final where they finally met the mighty Dutch!

What was the magic formula that the Irish had which we could not emulate or match?

A big heart and not taking no for an answer saw the gutsy Irish women pull off something which no hockey pundit would have ever predicted! Had we pulled it off, we would have been in the top 4 or even played the final, something which has also eluded us for so long.

So, come the Asian Games, all hopes were pinned on the hockey bringing us the yellow medal which is dear to every hockey lover- alas it wasn’t to be.

The Indian women, being the top ranked Asian team after the World Cup finish, should have gone into the competition being quietly confident yet not taking anything for granted.

The Asian Games saw the weaker teams getting annihilated with big scores by us, and whether we have the capacity to change mode and our tactical schemes depending on the competition, is a question that needs to be asked.

Japan stepped up its game and the direct route to the next Olympics has been made for them, whereas we will have to go through the whole qualifying process, something which could easily have been eliminated.

As a former player and an ardent supporter of Women’s Hockey, I think consistency in performance and the ability to be able to peak at the correct time is instrumental to good performances.

What our game plan is in terms of importance of competitions and which is most important needs to be worked out well in advance, so the team preparation is done keeping that in mind.

Three big competitions in a year is a huge ask for our athletes.  So meticulous planning so that fatigue and burnout do not occur, I think should have been key considerations.

We need to make winning a habit and not sit on laurels of the past. The team has a huge amount of experience and have been playing together for a few years.

We really do need to have faith that we can match the best in the world and yet not be complacent about teams with no rankings!

The Olympic Games are not far now- we need to get our act together and not be happy with being second best.

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#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them. 

Naaz Shah

Naaz Shah

Naaz Shah is an Asian gold medallist and former captain of the Indian women's hockey team.
Naaz Shah

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