After the three-week national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru, the Indian womens hockey squad will leave for the Europe Tour on Monday night from the Kempegowda International Airport.
The 18-member Indian team will be captained by striker Rani while in-form goalkeeper Savita will shoulder the duties of vice-captain. The team will play four matches during their tour, the first and third of which will be against Ladies Den Bosch club on September 8 and 15 in Netherlands. They will also play two matches against the Belgium junior men’s team on September 11 and 18 in Antwerp, Belgium.
“This is the first time we are playing a junior men’s national team. While we play a lot of practice matches with the junior men’s side during our national camps, the team is excited to be playing against Belgium’s junior team which is the Junior World Cup finalist. It will be challenging no doubt, but I am confident we will learn a lot from this exposure,” stated captain Rani Rampal, ahead of the team’s departure.
The Europe Tour will be a good experience ahead of the all-important Asia Cup next month in Japan where the team will look to win the title.
Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne said: “The idea of playing the men’s team was to toughen our team mentally and also the pace of the game will be much faster. The national camp was good as we played two matches with the men’s team here in Bengaluru every week and the girls have put in a lot of hard work in this camp.
“Asia Cup is important and in my opinion, at the moment the Indian team is the No.1 side in Asia and there’s no doubt that we will be gunning for the title.