Making debut at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games would be a fairy-tale, Indian women’s hockey team defender Manpreet Kaur said on Wednesday. The young player also said that skipper Rani Rampal had been her biggest inspiration.
Manpreet, 22, who is training with the national team at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru for the Olympics, added that her maiden international tour — to Argentina in February — had helped her gain “a lot of confidence”.
“Debut for the senior national team at a dream event like the Olympics will be a fairy-tale for me. But I want to keep my feet on the ground and continue doing my hard work. We all are pumped up, and just working hard, making each and every day count in training,” said the player from Shahabad in Haryana.
A product of the Shahabad Academy — the centre that has produced top players such as skipper Rani Rampal and forwards Navjot Kaur, and Navneet Kaur — Manpreet says she watched their progress while growing up.
“I have followed Rani, Navjot and Navneet from very close quarters while growing up. Just like other girls in Shahabad, I also idolised Rani. She is my biggest inspiration, and it’s a special feeling to spend time with her at the camp. She guides young players like me in the right direction, and she is the biggest motivator in the team.”
On her maiden international tour to Argentina, she said, “It was the team’s first assignment in almost a year. I was very nervous, but the seniors motivated me, and match-by-match, I kept gaining confidence, so it was a great learning experience even though those were practice matches.”