Played hockey to have three proper meals a day: Rani Rampal

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | August 18, 2023 IST

Rani Rampal

ANIRUDHA MISHRA

Bhubaneswar, Aug 18: As a child, she used to search newspaper pages with a hawk-eye looking for sports write-ups and published photographs of senior girls of her locality, who played hockey at various levels. She would cut those news-clippings and photos and preserve them with utmost care.

Then she too started dreaming to be one like them and become a successful hockey player one day. Playing for India or to become an international hockey star, was not her goal. Not for glory or luxury, but hockey was her medium to get a job in future and manage three proper meals a day.

Sounds strange and absurd! That is reality. Harsh reality. May not be for many, but for former India women hockey team captain Rani Rampal, it was the bitter truth of life. She comes from a very humble background from Haryana's Shahabad Markanda in Kurukshetra district. Like Odisha's Sundergarh, it is another hockey hub in India. Rani's father worked as a cart-puller and could manage hardly Rs 80 per day. Her family struggled for every single meal.

She was registered in a local team at the age of seven. Initially her abilities were questioned. But later on she demonstrated her potential to her coach and all those who questioned her capabilities. She took to field hockey in 2003 and trained at the Shahabad Hockey Academy under Baldev Singh, a Dronacharya Award recipient. Rest is history. She went on to lead the senior Indian women team and won laurels across the world. 

But life has again taken a new turn for Rani. Now she is going through another tough phase of her sporting career. She did not find a place in the 34-member core probable group for the Asian Games 2023 announced by Hockey India recently. Instead, she is busy with her new role assigned by Hockey India, i.e., training young women hockey talents and sharpening their skills in Odisha.

Despite her new role as a coach-cum-mentor for promising women hockey talents, Rani Rampal, the former India captain and a veteran of 254 international hockey matches, has categorically clarified that she is not retiring as a player. She is determined to make a comeback to the Indian team as a player. 

It can be recalled that the 28-year-old forward captained the Indian women's team to its best-ever fourth-place finish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Rani Rampal has scored 120 goals for India since making her debut as a 14-year-old in 2009.

But Rani was sidelined due to injury for the most part of 2022, missing out on a place in the Indian squad for the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands as well as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Rani is a fighter. She loves challenges. After being ignored for the Asian Games recently, Rani has stated, “I am not retiring since I know I still have more to give to the sport as a player. I have this thing in me to not give up. If I had to, I would have given up after the Olympics. I accepted this (the coaching role) since it is a short-term programme.”

After missing out for the Asian Games, Rani had lashed out at the national head coach Janneke Schopman demanding an answer as to why she was being ignored despite her fair performances lately.

Worth mentioning that Rani made a comeback for India in January this year during India’s tour of South Africa. She played all four Test matches on return, scoring thrice, but has not played for India since then. Savita Punia continued as the skipper despite Rani Rampal’s return to the squad.

On Friday, addressing a meeting at Kalinga Stadium premises in Bhubaneswar to mark the 25th Death Anniversary of former Odisha sports journalist Dr Ashok Patnaik, Rani advised young sports talents to dream big and work hard towards that goal.

Sharing her experience, Rani stated that with age, situations and different stages of life, targets keep changing. But hard work, sincerity and determination can overcome bigger hurdles and help to attain bigger goals with optimum success.

She was also all praise for the exemplary sports ecosystem in Odisha. Rani stated that with so many initiatives and development over the past few years, Odisha has earned a special place on the global sports map. The facilities in Odisha are very modern and of world class. The hockey programme in Odisha is very extensive with a great focus on sports science, nutrition and psychology. Rani revealed that she is excited to be in Odisha for the betterment of Indian hockey.

Will Rani Rampal be able to make a comeback to the Indian women team as a player that only time can answer. But surely, she is a role model for any young sports aspirant. Her story can inspire many to excel in sports and in life as well. 

The reason is simple. Rani grew up realising the pain of hunger and wanted to make it big in life not for glory or luxury, but for three proper meals a day. Today, she admits her priorities have changed. She is determined to make a comeback to the Indian women's hockey team as a player. Others may not be sure of her comeback, but she definitely is. Because Rani Rampal has come a long way from searching  for others' achievements in newspapers to becoming a sports icon in India.



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