The India women’s national hockey team has created history by beating China to lift the Women’s Asia Cup 2017 after 13 years, ensuring that India qualifies for next year’s Women’s World Cup as Continental Champions. Telugu girl and goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu, who is part of the victorious team, is thrilled about the title win. “We are ecstatic to win the title. This win is the result of hard work, extensive training and dedication. It’s no doubt an emotional moment that we have been waiting for a long time. I guess winning moments are always emotional,” she says, adding, “It’s a double whammy as our men's team also emerged as victorious Asia Cup champions last month. The celebrations are still on and we are constantly getting messages and calls.”
But did she expect the win? “Before the start of the tournament, we were determined to win. It was an important series for us because we have to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Since we secured a place early in this tournament, we were confident of pulling it off. We last won the Asia Cup in 2004, so breaking a 13-year-old jinx and proceeding to the World Cup is a great feeling,” she exults.
Describing the mood before the match, Rajani says, “We were charged up for the big day. We knew we were capable of lifting the title since we have done it in the past. The team was confident and the camaraderie has been brilliant. We have been enjoying each other’s success and have supported one another. That played a big role in our win.” The hockey player from AP credits team effort for winning the title. “There are a lot of young players who exhibited great spirit and body language throughout the tourney. We are mentally tough and worked on the physical and tactical aspects of the game. We’d like to thank Hockey India and SAI (Sports Authority of India) for providing us with the best infrastructure,” she says.
Ranjani adds that the final was a close encounter and that they gave their best till the end. “This victory is a huge morale-booster for us ahead of the big events lined up in the coming months. It will raise expectations, but hopefully we carry forward the confidence into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games too.”...