Focused Rani aims to climb higher

Youngster keen to do well at the New Delhi fiesta

Focused Rani aims to climb higher

However, the days of battle against privation helped Rani develop a strong mind, a faithful ally on her budding journey to stardom on hockey field at the tender age of 15. Recently, she bagged the ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ award at the women’s hockey World Cup in Rosario, Argentina — a feat that underlined her immense talent.

India did not have a great tournament as they finished ninth with just two wins. But Rani scored seven of the country’s 11 goals in the tournament. “It was an excellent experience and gaining such exposure on the world stage will only help me to do better,” she said.

Even while enjoying her success, Rani has not forgotten the days of struggle. “When I started, I had to face a lot of difficulties. But my first coach, Baldev Singh, helped me with buying shoes, hockey sticks and other gear. He still provides me with hockey sticks,” Rani told Deccan Herald.

Rani’s family — from Shahabad, Haryana — could not afford the costly hockey gear, but they made innumerable sacrifices to support her ambition of being a hockey player.
Understandably, Rani attributed a lot of credit to her parents and brothers —  who work as carpenters at her native place.

“My father and brothers have been very supportive — the biggest support being that they let me play hockey and realise my dreams. Anytime I have had a need they have done their best to get whatever I wanted; even at the cost of their own needs. I will never forget that,” she said.

Their whole-hearted efforts didn’t go in vain as Rani was acknowledged as the brightest star in Indian women’s hockey. She was the top-scorer for India at the Champion’s Challenge tournament in Kazan, Russia, in June, 2009, bagging the Young Player of the Tournament award. She was also instrumental in India winning the silver medal in the Asia Cup in November 2009, scoring a bagful of goals.

Rani is now at an age when youngsters would be tempted to go for some new-generation gadgets. But she is determined to realise her dream, leave a legacy as the best Indian woman forward.   

“I want to be known as the Dhyan Chand of women’s hockey so that people in my country will remember me forever,” she said. So, where does she get the maturity that belies her teenage?

“I met my idol Luciana Aiymar of Argentina during the World Cup. She is very famous and is Argentina’s best player and the best woman hockey player in the world today. But still she retains her humility. I also learnt a lot from Sachin Tendulkar. He has made his name in cricket, he is a legend but still he remains a humble human being. I take a lot of inspiration from these two,” Rani said.

Baldev Singh, who identified Rani’s talent initially, said, “Dedication and the ability to stay focused on her goals make her different from many others. It’s a big thing because there are enough temptations in the world for a 15-year-old to stray from her chosen path.”

Now, a big challenge beckons Rani. She will have to lead India’s strike-force in the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Rani sounded confident about the assignment.

“There will be a lot of expectations when you play at home. But we will put in our best effort, practice hard and hopefully India will emerge champions. We have to play to our strength which is the short-passing game. We also have to avoid making some of the mistakes we made at the World Cup like not defending well or not playing with speed,” Rani said.

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