Pulling off a victory against world No 2 Australia will help boost our confidence ahead of the Olympics qualifiers, feels Indian women’s hockey player Gurjit Kaur.
The Indian women’s team, currently ranked 10th in the International Hockey Federation rankings, will face tough challenges against the likes of Australia, China (11th) and hosts Japan (14th) at the Olympic test event, scheduled to begin in Tokyo on August 17.
The tournament will give the Indian team a chance to work on a few aspects of their game before the all-important Olympic Qualifiers in October/ November.
“It will be a big confidence boost for us if we do well against Australia. In the past six months, we have done very well against teams like Japan, China, Spain and Ireland, but a win against Australia will put us in good stead ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers,” said Kaur.
India’s lone dragflicker, Kaur, who returned for the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima after recovering from a back injury, played a key role in India’s triumph in the competition in June.
The 23-year-old said the team environment is great and the players are upbeat about their game.
“Since we are backed by good preparations – thanks to the special camps held for defenders and goalkeepers – the team environment before the Olympic Test Event is great and we are upbeat and confident. In the past few weeks, we have worked on quite a few aspects of our game so we can do well against teams like Australia, China and Japan.”
The highest goal-scorer of the FIH Women’s Series Finals, Kaur will be one of the most important players for India at the Olympic test event. Even though she is the only dragflicker in the team, she doesn’t see it as extra pressure and looks at the position as her responsibility.
“Dragflicking is a responsibility for me, just like everyone else has their own responsibilities. Some players have to attack for a goal, some players have to defend, that way, my responsibility is to ensure we score through penalty corners, which I work on. The exposure I have got over the past two years has only helped me grow in the team and improve my skills as a dragflicker,” she said.
Kaur also revealed that she didn’t have a deep understanding of dragflicking when she joined the Indian team. “I practiced and learnt dragflicking well after joining the Indian team, then I got my chances and thereafter my confidence increased,” she said.
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