For Savita Punia, the fourth-placed end on the Tokyo Olympics final 12 months was a fruits of 4 years of toil to beat the ache of the group-stage exit in Rio.
Spine of the ladies’s nationwide crew for properly over a decade, Savita produced her finest within the quarterfinal conquer the mighty Australians in Japan. The shot-stopper stored the Aussies at bay with 9 large saves to steer the aspect to a 1-0 win.
Savita took over the captaincy for the FIH Professional League in Rani Rampal’s absence. On the sidelines of the Sportstar Aces Awards, the place she was voted Sportswoman of the Yr (Group Sports activities), Savita mirrored on her journey from the 2016 Olympics, her future and her objectives for what’s one other vital 12 months for the crew.
What do particular person recognitions imply to you?
I’m what I’m due to the crew. When a person in a crew receives an award, the crew at all times shares happiness in that, and it at all times occurs with our crew.
And it was additionally an evening of recognition for our crew, which we labored in direction of for a interval of 4 years for the Olympics. And when that achievement on the Olympics earns the love and respect of the viewers, it’s a giant deal for us. This acts as a motivation for the crew to set our subsequent goal for this 12 months with the World Cup and the Asian Video games developing.
How was the final 12 months, personally, for you?
As a goalkeeper, there’s at all times that additional accountability. As a senior participant, it grew to become extra through the Olympics. Individually, it wasn’t my finest on the 2016 Olympics. After qualifying for the 2020 version, my goal was to place within the work so I can have a great efficiency to assist my crew. Errors are part of being a goalkeeper and the sport consistently teaches us that. The extra expertise you will have, the extra you benefit from the recreation and combat in your crew.
Group participant: Goalkeeper Savita Punia receives the Sportswoman of the Yr (Group Sports activities) award from former Hockey participant Adrian D’Souza and Palki Sharma, Editor, Wion through the Sportstar Aces Awards in Mumbai. – Ok.R. Deepak
Top-of-the-line issues this 12 months is that now we have entered the Professional League for the primary time and the crew is doing properly in opposition to the highest groups.
You draw back from highlight. However with Rani Rampal in rehabilitation, does that add extra accountability as a senior participant?
As a senior, I at all times attempt to assist and inspire the youthful members within the crew. On the sphere, I’m prepared to assist everybody. Off the sphere, too, I take day out to assist them. Rani and I are in fixed discussions to work out how we will help them. And even at present, I’m not alone in taking the accountability on this crew. There are different gamers who come beneath the management group. Our purpose is to carry out properly ourselves and set examples for others to observe.
You at the moment are 31. Not many ladies hockey gamers within the nation play over the age of 30. What motivates you to proceed…
My household. My dad and mom, my brother, my teammates give me the energy to proceed. Solely when somebody tells me what my age is, I realise how previous I’m (laughs). One factor sport has taught me is that, if you’re match and have a aim set for your self and are devoted, then the age doesn’t matter. As a woman, I’ve obtained a really supportive household. My goal was to carry out properly on the Olympics, however nonetheless, one thing is lacking… so to realize that we are going to proceed to work in direction of it. My coaches additionally inform me that age just isn’t a difficulty for a goalkeeper and that it ought to by no means cross my thoughts. The chief coach (Janneke Schopman) additionally says so long as you’re match, reflexes are quick and you’re feeling like you’re acting at a excessive stage, then you definitely hold going. It’s a bonus being a goalkeeper. And it’s not only for goalkeepers. Everywhere in the discipline as properly, and throughout sports activities, so long as you’re match and are devoted, age doesn’t matter on this period.
“Errors are part of being a goalkeeper and the sport consistently teaches us that. The extra expertise you will have, the extra you benefit from the recreation and combat in your crew.”
You have been supplied a training position with the Sports activities Authority of India. Is teaching your subsequent calling?
Hockey has given me so much and has given my household quite a lot of respect. My want is the day I go away the sphere as a participant, I want to prepare children, particularly goalkeepers. After I began enjoying, I used to be fortunate that I had a coach, who did little goalkeeping coaching. I’ve seen that on the home stage, consideration to goalkeepers may be very little. Solely while you go to the nationwide stage, you see goalkeeping periods and see the talent required [to play in that position].
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These days, you see how a lot the match final result will depend on a goalkeeper. There was a time when goalkeepers have been selected their physique weight or for those who have been thought-about lazy or for those who talked much less. A goalkeeper will get to see the entire discipline to assist the crew and this wasn’t one thing which was in my recreation and I needed to change that about myself. If I get the chance sooner or later, then I want to prepare outfielders in addition to goalkeepers.
What are the objectives you will have set for the 12 months?
To start with, there’s the World Cup adopted by the Asian Video games. We need to win gold! We don’t have gold on the Asian Video games to date, we solely have silver and bronze. By successful the Asian Video games, we will earn direct qualification for the Olympics. World Cup is essential for us. Final time, we misplaced within the penalty shootout within the quarterfinals. We’ve got labored actually arduous and we’re assured that if we play to our strengths, then we will do properly on the World Cup and the Asian Video games.