The Indian junior women's hockey team have already reached the capital city of Chile, Santiago, and are preparing to lock sticks against Chile's junior side in their first encounter of the tour on January 18.
India's striker Beauty Dungdung, did not hold back her excitement as the team is finally set for some competitive action after a year which was ravished by the Coronavirus pandemic.
"First of all, I would like to thank Hockey India, Sports Authority of India, and hosts Chile, for having organised this tour for our team," said the 17-year-old striker in a media release.
"We feel very fortunate to be in this position to resume competitive hockey, and with all the protocols in place, we are preparing now to take part in our first match this weekend."
"Obviously with the pandemic, we could not play any tournaments last year, but my last memory of playing for the Indian team is a memorable one, as we won the 3-Nations invitational tournament held in Australia in December 2019. It hasn't been easy since then to only take part in limited sports activities back at camp in Bengaluru, but we feel really confident in our abilities, and we have all been putting in the work to make sure we are ready to compete here in Chile," expressed Dungdung.
After playing twice with the junior Chile side, they will take on the senior team on January 20, 21, 23 and 24. The tour is considered crucial as the side prepares for the Junior Women’s World Cup, to be held in South Africa in December 2021. It must be noted that the Junior Women's Asia Cup will also take place in April 2021 in Japan.
Hockey India (HI) has named a 24-member squad for the tour, led by defender Suman Devi Thoudam. Ishika Chaudhary is the vice-captain.
The forward, who idolises senior team skipper Asunta Lakra, believes that the experience gained from this tour will be invaluable for the upcoming Asian Cup and World Cup.
"We know we have these six matches against a tough opponent. First, we play two matches against Chile and then four matches against their senior team, which gives us great exposure, and our team is really looking forward to gaining as much as we all can from this tour," said Dungdung.
Their last competitive outing was a tri-nation tournament against Australia and New Zealand in December 2019. In that tournament, they were impressive -- winning two out of four matches.