A young girl hailing from a Shahbad in Markanda of Harayana made headlines while swinging her hockey stick, eyes set to the ball and turned an idol for aspiring female hockey players. A earnest calm on her face, a strong belief in her game she cruised to be the core of Indian Women’s Hockey Team. Rani Rampal, the powerhouse speaks with Aditi about her game. (For TMM-ThnkMkt Magazine)
From being the youngest player of the Indian team at World Cup 2010; to becoming the captain of the team in 8 years. How did you brace yourself?
Hailing from a small place in Haryana, I was born and brought up in a vacuumed surrounding where males were preferred over women. It took me a long while to convince my family to give me a consent to ‘choose’ a career. A dream in heart, and aspiration to be an internationally recognised hockey player I somehow assured them of a sane decision. Either on or off-the-field, all I thought about was ‘how’ to perform to the best of my abilities. Playing as the youngest player of the national women’s hockey team was one of the best things that happened to me as a player. Every time I was practicing or playing a game, gave me a sense of achievement and motivated me to play better.
In a time when we speak of women doing well in all fields, how critical is a family’s support for a woman to work for her endeavours?
When I first took a decision to be a hockey player, there was tremendous friction between my family, own dreams and my effort to achieve it. Today, it is very easy to say everything gets sorted in own time. At the time while I took my first step, even when my parents were tend to change for once; the society greatly influenced their thought. Everyone apart from my parents had a problem with me wearing short clothes, being on the field, playing and were worried of me being a ‘bad influence’ on other girls too. All of this together conspired against me and became more troublesome for me as they were neither educated nor understood my desperation towards the game. Though it took a lot of time to ensure they are ‘not’ worried about it, but understood my need of education in the sport(•touchwood•); I am glad I have made them proud. Everyone who tried to put me away from the game are now admitting their girl children under training for hockey.(•laughs•)
‘Diet’ plays a significant role for a player. How did you manage yours’?
A proper diet surely helps get better results in a decent time frame. While I began my training session, my family could hardly afford an appropriate diet. Our coach used to ask each player to fetch half litre milk for consumption after session. The measure could never suffice as ‘affordable’ for my entire family. If at all I took a portion of milk; I mixed 70 percent or more with water and gulped the concoction. A close look to history of most players in hockey or other games would tell you a majority of players of come from noble backgrounds. It is commendable how their parents facilitate their support them on way to success.
How do you suggest a lady should prepare oneself to get into sports?
A family’s support is utmost important. Nobody else can motivate in the case. You would face ups and downs it would be very difficult. Your parents should support their kids in chasing in dreams. I feel girls are able to follow their dreams more sincerely.
Even being our national game; hockey still has a long way to rule hearts of the Indian audience. Where do you think we lack in making hockey a recognised sports as a ‘game of cricket’?
It would not be fair to discriminate between cricket and hockey. People have gone head over heels for crocket, however; it isn’t a same case for the hockey. The game of cricket has walked ahead of time. Gaining recognition and respect for ‘hockey’ as a nationally-appreciated game would take some time but would surely happen with support from sponsors, media.
Khelo India as an initiative have earned a lot of recognition. Do you think that would help us guide the talent in right direction?
‘Khelo India’ is a great step taken towards training and promoting young talent with age-old games simultaneously. The age group defined in the initiative is one which experiences most the fall outs. This is where we must support and keep improve the future of games. The government must now ensure a futuristic approach of encouraging best talent ahead. This is how we shall grow.