Chanced upon hockey, Udita strives to improve with the help of her idols

Initially a handball enthusiast, the Haryana athlete took up hockey only five years back.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

One of Indian women hockey’s fast emerging strikers in the modern era, Udita did not have the game in her plans until as early as 2015.

In fact, it was her handball coach’s absence for three consecutive days back in school that had led her to choose hockey as an alternative sport.

And the choice changed her life almost instantly.

After taking up hockey in 2015 the Haryana girl ended up leading the Indian Under-18 women’s hockey team to a bronze medal at the Asia Cup the very next year.

“It’s amazing where life takes you,” Udita told Hockey India.

“I took to hockey immediately and I understood that I can be good at this sport. I think the Under-18 Asia Cup in 2016 was a big turning point for me.

“My performances were recognised in the competition and eventually, I made my way to the senior Indian team,” the 22-year-old added.

After an impressive debut at the Four-Nation tournament in Europe, Udita was a regular in the Indian squad and she made an impact with India’s opening goal at the 2018 Asian Games against Indonesia.

Improving her skills

The next step, however, is not going to be easy for young Udita, who must excel from among a rich array of Indian forwards that include Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Rani Rampal, Vandana Katariya and others.

Hene, the Indian forward is making the most of the nationwide lockdown to iron out her flaws while staying with her team at the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru.

“I am watching a lot of footage of my previous games during the lockdown period and noting down some key things that I need to improve once we get back on the pitch,” revealed the forward, who has 32 caps for Team India.

“Hopefully, I will improve my skills quickly and become a much better player," she added.

Living with idols

Luckily, Udita is training regularly with the veterans of the team at the SAI centre in Indian captain Rani Rampal and striker Vandana Katariya.

Having played nearly 500 matches for the national team, the forward duo has 182 goals between them and is always there to help Udita take the step up as well.

"I idolize Rani and Vandana, and I have learned a lot from them,” Udita said.

“They are very experienced players and have always supported me during my time with the team. I am very lucky to have seniors like them.

“I keep a close eye on how they practice and strategize before matches. 

“I wish I can become like them someday," the rookie added.