Hockey: India eves set sail for Argentina tour

The team is travelling to foreign shores after almost a year to ramp up preparations for the Olympics

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

The India women's hockey team have departed for Argentina for a series of games against the South Americans.

They will play their first match on January 17 against Argentina Junior Women. After a one-day break, they will go up against the same opponents in their second match.

Their next two fixtures are against Argentina B on January 22 and 24, whereas they play the final four matches of the tour against the senior team on January 26, 28, 30 and 31.

All matches will kick off at 2:30 AM IST.

The Coronavirus pandemic had abruptly halted their preparations for the Olympics and this will be their first exposure tour since they visited New Zealand in January 2020. The Rani Rampal-led side put up a good show in that tri-nation competition which included Great Britain, as they won three games out of five.

"It feels amazing to be touring again," said India skipper Rani.

"We have worked very hard on our game in the last few months and the time has come for us to execute our skills in an international match. Playing in international matches is going to be a bit different this time, since we will be in a bio bubble, however, the team is excited to be back on the field in the best possible manner at the moment."

According to vice-captain Savita Punia, getting competitive minutes will help them get better and attain the level of match sharpness that is necessary to perform well in Tokyo.

"We desperately needed to get back into competitive mode as there's not much time left to go for the Olympics," Punia said.

"We have been doing well in practice sessions, but an international match is always the real test for any sportsperson. Therefore, we would like to thank Hockey India and SAI for the efforts they have put in to arrange a tour for us. We are really looking forward to a great tour and hopefully, we start playing to our full potential right from the first match."

Hockey India in association with the Argentina Hockey Confederation (CAH) have ensured that the team will be put up in a bio-bubble to minimise chances of players getting infected with the Coronavirus.

Arrangements have been made in such a way that the team will have separate rooms for meals, team meetings, and other sessions.
They even underwent an RT-PCR Test 72 hours prior to their departure.

"Though there is no requirement of quarantine upon arrival in Argentina, the team will still be following all safety and health measures as advised by the respective governments of India and Argentina," the hockey India release stated.

The 25-member Indian Women's Hockey squad: Rani (Captain), Savita (Vice-Captain), Rajani Etimarpu, Bichu Devi Kharibam, Gurjit Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Rashmita Minz, Manpreet Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Salima Tete, Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal, Namita Toppo, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Jyoti, Udita, Rajwinder Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sharmila Devi.