The Indian women’s hockey team has made history by making it to the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. The team has achieved this feat for the first time in 41 years. This seemingly impossible success has been made possible by 16 daughters of the country. Before defeating teams like Australia, South Africa, Ireland, she has overcome many difficulties in her life including poverty, thinking that girls are underrepresented. Let’s know the story of these chak de girls of real life…
Captain Rani Rampal’s father used to drive a tonga, mother used to work in homes.
Rani Rampal, the captain of the Indian women’s hockey team, hails from Shahabad town of Kurukshetra, Haryana. His father Rampal used to run a tonga. Mother used to work in people’s homes. Father’s earning was Rs 80 per day. Rani has two elder brothers. A brother works in a grocery store. At the same time, the other brother works as a carpenter.
There was a girls’ hockey academy in front of Rani’s house. When Rani went for admission in the academy, coach Baldev Singh flatly refused, because Rani was very thin. He felt that the financial condition of the queen was not very good, so it would be difficult for her to arrange a diet. But, due to the repeated insistence of Rani, she asked him to come to the training. At the same time, he said that he asked to bring half a liter of milk to drink in the academy. His family was able to arrange only 200 ml of milk. The queen used to take water mixed with it so that the training would not be missed. Initially, she used to train in salwar only. Later, seeing his talent, coach Baldev Singh got him the kit.
Gurjeet’s father sold his motorcycle to hockey kit
India beat Australia 1-0 in the quarter-finals. The only goal for India was scored by Gurjit Kaur. Gurjeet plays the role of defender and drag flick specialist in the team. Drag Flick Specialist means penalty corner player.
Gurjeet, 25, hails from Miyadi Kala village of Amritsar, from a farming family. He had nothing to do with hockey.
Her father Satnam Singh was very serious about the daughter’s education. Gurjit and his sister Pradeep took their early education from a private school in the village and were later enrolled in a boarding school located in Kairon village of Tarn Taran. Gurjeet’s dream of hockey started from there. However, making Gurjeet a hockey player was not easy for his family. His father even sold a motorcycle to buy a hockey kit for him.
Sister did the work of a maid to make Salima a hockey player
Indian team’s young defender Salima Tete hails from Simdega district, considered a hockey stronghold in Jharkhand. Salima’s family still lives in a kutcha house. There are five sisters and one brother in the family. The condition of the house was not such that it could send the daughter to sports. Sister Anima worked as a maid in Bangalore to make Salima’s dream come true. When Salima went to play the hockey world championship, she did not even have a trolley bag. Some acquaintances took an old bag from someone and gave it. A campaign was launched on Facebook for pocket money. Now Salima has got a government job.
Nikki Pradhan’s mother was stopped from entering the stadium
Nikki Pradhan, who hails from Khunti district of Jharkhand, is a midfielder. Nikki’s father is in the police. They are short of time. That’s why the mother used to take them for training. Once Nikki was playing a match at the state level in Ranchi stadium but the policemen did not let her mother inside. He repeatedly told that his daughter was playing the match but no one believed him.
Vandana learned to play hockey from a tree branch
Forward Vandana Kataria, who scored a hat-trick in the pool match against South Africa, hails from Roshanabad, Haridwar. Vandana started playing hockey with tree branches. Most of the people in Vandana’s family did not want her to play hockey, but father Nahar Singh wanted the daughter to move forward. When Vandana was in Bangalore for Olympic training, her father passed away. Due to Corona, she could not even reach his funeral. Now the family says that Vandana is playing on the playground to fulfill her father’s last wish. The father’s wish was that the daughter should illuminate her name in the whole world with her hockey.
Navjot Kaur is the daughter of a mechanic
Navjot Kaur, 26, hails from Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. His father is a mechanic by profession and mother is a housewife. Navjot studied at Kurukshetra University and trained for hockey at Baldev Singh’s academy in Shahabad. In his first tournament at the Under-19 level, he topped the list. He has participated in more than 100 international hockey matches representing India.
Goalkeeper Savita made Dada’s dream come true
Indian team’s wall goalkeeper Savita Poonia hails from Sirsa district of Haryana. Her grandfather Ranjit Singh wanted Savita to become a hockey player. Father Mahendra Singh Poonia says- Savita made my chest wide with pride, but her victory is dedicated to her late grandfather Ranjit Singh. Because it was his heartfelt desire that granddaughters should serve the country by participating in sports. However, he is no longer in this world to celebrate Savita’s victory.
Azad Singh Malik, who was Savita’s coach at Hisar Sai Center, said that Savita was chosen as the goalkeeper due to her tall height and agility. When Savita was in class 9, Hisar came for coaching. In a practice match here, Savita was made the goalkeeper. When he saw Savita’s reaction time in that match, he felt that Savita should be groomed as a goalkeeper. From that match till now, Savita has been continuously improving her game.
Navneet Kaur had expressed her desire to play hockey in the fifth class
Team India’s forward Navneet Kaur is also from Shahabad town of Haryana. His father Buta Singh is a farmer and mother is a housewife. Navneet Kaur was born on 26 January 1996. He expressed his desire to play hockey in the fifth grade itself. Hockey coach Baldev trained him. Navneet Kaur won the bronze medal in the Junior World Cup in 2013. After this, Gold Medal in Asian Cup in 2017, Silver in Asian Games in 2018, 4th place in Commonwealth Games in 2018 itself. Qualified for the Senior World Cup in 2018, the Olympics in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Navneet Kaur raised the country’s hopes of staying in the Olympics by scoring a goal in the final quarter of the match against Ireland in the hockey match against Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. After this, after defeating Australia on Sunday, the team reached the semi-finals.
Tailor’s daughter Nisha moved ahead with coach’s support
Defender Nisha Warsi is participating in the Olympics for the first time. He had to face many difficulties to reach here. Father Sohrab Ahmed was a tailor. In 2015, he was paralyzed and had to leave the job. Her mother Mahroon used to work in a foam making company, but she left the job after Nisha got a job in the railways. There were also many social barriers. But coach Siwach supported Nisha. He explained it to his parents. He persuaded them to let Nisha fulfill her dreams. In 2018, Nisha was selected for the Indian team’s camp but the decision to leave the house was not easy. He made his international debut in 2019 at the FIH Finals in Hiroshima. Since then she has represented India nine times.
Midfielder Neha Goyal’s father was unemployed
Indian midfielder Neha Goyal’s father, who hails from Sonipat, Haryana, did not have the means of earning. A friend suggested that playing hockey would provide good shoes and clothes. She took up a hockey stick since she was in the sixth grade. After winning the district level match, he got a reward of two thousand rupees. Mother Savitri started working in the factory to pursue her daughter. After this Neha did not look back.
Udita Duhan was a handball player
Yashveer Singh Duhan, father of Udita Duhan, a resident of Hisar, Haryana, was in the police. Udita was raised in difficult circumstances by Mata Geeta Devi when she passed away in November 2015 due to illness. The family members wanted them to settle down in Nangal, Bhiwani, but Geeta kept the daughter in the city so that she could fulfill her father’s dream by earning a name in sports. Udita used a hockey stick to fulfill her father’s dream. Udita was earlier a handball player. When her handball coach did not come to school for a few days, Udita tried her hand at hockey and since then has been a part of this sport. In 2016, she also became the captain of the junior team.
Coach Praveen Sihag enhances Sharmila’s game
Indian forward Sharmila Devi hails from Camry, Hisar. Father Suresh Kumar is a farmer. Due to the poor financial condition of the family, she was unable to move forward. She met coach Praveen Sihag when she was in the fourth grade. Sihag helped him at every level and made him an international level player.
Lalremsiami remained with the team despite father’s death
Forward Lalremsiami of the Indian team is the first player from Mizoram to make it to the team. In June 2019, when she was with the team, her father died. Despite this, she decided to stay with the team and took part in the FIH Women’s Hockey Series.
Deep Grace’s parents are unable to watch the match due to no electricity
Defender Deep Grace Ekka hails from Sundergarh district of Odisha. Deep’s father Charles Ekka says that due to lack of hockey stick in childhood, he used to play with hockey stick made from Kendu plant. There are three sons and two daughters in the family. Even today there is a problem of electricity and water in the village. Due to the lack of electricity, her parents have not been able to see their daughter playing in this Olympics so far.
Father wanted to make Monica a wrestler
Monika Malik of Gamdi village of Sonipat district was encouraged by her father Takdeer Singh for sports since childhood. Monica started playing hockey during the 8th grade itself. However, his father wanted him to become a wrestler. Seeing his daughter’s interest in hockey, he again changed his mind. Monica is now the star midfielder of the team.
Reena’s career was about to end due to injury
Indian team defender Reena Khokhar hails from Nayagaon in Mohali district. Reena’s father is retired from BSF. He always motivated Reena to move ahead in the game. In 2019, due to an accident during gym session, Reena’s career was on the verge of ending. He had suffered an injury on his left eye and was afraid of loss of vision. But, Reena made a strong comeback and now with her strong game, has brought India closer to the medal.