With the Tokyo Olympics approaching, the players in the Indian women's hockey core probables are moving in the right direction with each player pushing the other to make the final team for the quadrennial event. "There is enough competition within the core group to make the final squad. I think also another contributing factor to our growing confidence is chief coach Sjoerd Marijne who constantly pushes us to excel," Neha Goyal, a regular feature in the Indian team, said in a Hockey India release.
"He inculcates that confidence in each player, and I believe this has also helped in the way we have played against some of the top teams in the recent past," she added. Having heard stories from her senior counterparts who played at the Rio Olympics in 2016 which was Indian women's hockey team's first Olympic appearance in 36 years, all Neha thinks of is to earn a place in the team to play in Tokyo.
"I understand this Olympics may be very different to the previous ones. But representing India at the Olympics Games is every sports person's dream and listening to those very many stories from the seniors who played in Rio, obviously you don't want to miss a chance," said Neha. "It's this motivation that makes all of us give our 100 per cent in every training session. I am definitely looking forward to make the team for my maiden Olympic Games," she added.
With travel restrictions in place, the Indian teams will continue to remain at SAI Centre, Bengaluru where the national coaching camp is on. Though not playing competitive matches is a setback for the team's preparations, the players continue to remain optimistic. "We have good facilities here with an exclusive strength and conditioning gym meant only for hockey players. We have a good support system around us, and we are using different methods and scenarios to ensure each session is intense," Neha opined.
"We try and create match scenarios and use video analysis from previous tours to Argentina and Germany. We have identified specific areas to work on and improve. I feel all these aspects are helping us in our preparations and we are optimistic about our chances," she further said. "Our focus now is to stay fit mentally and physically, improve our speed and stay injury-free in the buildup to the games," Neha concluded.