The Indian women hockey team's sterling performance at the Olympic Games has shown that the sport is still alive and kicking in the country, said assistant coach Ankitha B.S.
While the men's hockey team won bronze, the women's hockey team lost to Great Britain in the bronze medal play-off.
"Now everyone is talking about hockey. In India, the talk surrounds only cricket. But after this event, each household is talking about hockey. Being a hockey player, coach I can say the marvellous performance by the women's team has shown the world that hockey is still alive," Ankitha told IANS on Sunday night.
"We might not have won a medal, but surely we have won hearts."
The Indian women's hockey team began badly but raised its level towards the end of the group stages and made it to the last four after defeating world No. 2 Australia in quarter-finals.
However, it lost to Argentina in the semis and then Great Britain in the third place play-off.
"After the defeat in the final stages, it was emotional for all coaches, supporting staff as well as players. We knew that what we had to achieve, we achieved. Opposition team players from Argentina and the United Kingdom, came back to our players after seeing them crying their hearts out after the loss," added Ankitha.
"Being on the winning side, they told our girls that we have done well. The British team had initially thought the match against India would be a cakewalk. After the game, they described the performance of Indian women's hockey team as 'really amazing' and they complimented by saying 'great job'," Ankitha recalled.
After three defeats, each player was determined to prove herself.
"They were self-motivated and we encouraged them," she said.
Ankitha, a long distance runner-turned-hockey player and coach hails from Karnataka. She became a national team coach on January 4, 2020. She has been working with the women's national hockey team since then.
"My parents Suresh B.A., Dharmavathi encouraged my dreams as an athlete at the age of five. Now, I am well supported by husband Honnampadi Suresh Kushalappa. Time has arrived for girls to fight the odds and achieve. It is the duty of parents and husbands to support them," Ankitha said.