Indian forward Vandana Katariya believes the Indian women’s hockey team is on the right path of progression as they have stepped up their performance from tournament-to-tournament this season.

A testimony to this is the team’s nominations for FIH Star Awards. Captain Savita Punia has been nominated for the Best Goalkeeper of the year award while young and upcoming player Mumtaz Khan has been nominated for the Rising Star of the year award. Chief coach Janneke Schopman has been nominated for the Coach of the year award.

Speaking about the nominations, Vandana expressed the team’s excitement and urged people to back her teammates. “I feel we are making the right strides. About three or four years ago, the team rarely made the cut for any awards as our performance was not up to the mark. But now, we have been making the right progression in international hockey and our performance is being recognized,” she said.

Vandana also requested fans to vote for the nominees from the men’s team and said. “It’s great to see players from both men’s and women’s team being nominated. I am hopeful and in fact confident that the Indian fans world over will vote for them and help them win.”

While awards bring with it great motivation as well as expectations, Vandana said that the team remains grounded and focused on the task ahead. “While it feels great to receive this kind of recognition which shows that our performances are on par with some of the top teams of the world, we are still grounded and focused on our own targets. We have set short-term and long-term goals for the team and we are ticking the boxes, one-by-one,” she said.

The team’s next major international outing will be in December at the FIH Hockey Womens Nations Cup but their biggest aim at the moment is to secure a direct qualification for Paris Olympic Games by finishing on top of the podium at the Asian Games scheduled for 2023 in China. “Everybody’s aim is to win the Asian Games next year and, in the lead up to that it is important we keep up the right momentum by doing well in tournaments like the Nations Cup which will help us qualify for the FIH Pro League matches. I would say, we are on the right path,” she concluded.