The former coach of the junior women’s hockey team Baljeet Singh Saini, who had trained some of the girls of the current national team, couldn’t be happier.
“It’s a great achievement by the women’s team. It’s good to see that their hard work has finally paid off,” said the former India player, from his current base in Sacramento.
Baljeet had worked with the likes of Udita Duhan, Salima Tete, Sharmila Devi and Lalremsiami during his stint as the coach of the junior national women’s team. Of the four players, two of them were also part of the team that won silver in the Hockey 5s event at the Youth Olympics held in Buenos Aires in 2018.
Asked what is it that has set the team apart from the others in the tournament, Baljeet said, “The biggest advantage of the Indian team is that they were together for most of the time over the past one year when the other teams were taking a break because of the pandemic. As a result, they were able to train a lot and SAI, HI and IOA should all be praised for doing a great job in making sure they were able to do that.”
It was only for a short period that the players were able to take a break and visit their family. Otherwise, they remained at SAI Bengaluru after the pandemic began and have left no stone unturned to make good use of the delay in Olympics and prepare for the same.
The two-time Olympian also credited coach Sjoerd Marijne for the fitness of the players and said it made a big difference to how they played compared to earlier times.
As the team prepares to take on Argentina in the last-four stage for a place in the final, Baljeet believes this performance will help the game regain its popularity among the masses.