The Indian Junior Women's Hockey team led by Salima Tete and vice-captained by Ishika Chaudhary is all geared up for the FIH Hockey Women's Junior World Cup.
Having patiently waited for this moment, after the coveted quadrennial tournament was postponed from December 2021 due to the omicron threat in South Africa, the Indian team's dressing room is filled with excitement ahead of their first match in Pool D against Wales on April 2. Reflecting the team's sentiments, Captain Salima Tete who had led the U-18 team to a historic Silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 said, "There is a lot of excitement among the players. Everyone has worked so hard for this moment and used the postponement to gain better exposure, improve as a team so we can put up our best performance here."
She further highlighted the team's preparations in the lead to the tournament, having landed in Potchefstroom almost a week ahead of their first match. "Coming here early has helped us tremendously. We have been able to get a good amount of training sessions here which has helped in acclimatizing to the weather. It gets very warm and humid during the day. It definitely helped to have our last camp before coming here in Bhubaneswar, Odisha where we trained in quite hot conditions."
The Indian team will begin their campaign against Wales on 2nd April 2022 followed by their second Pool D match against Germany. They will take on Malaysia in the third match and will hope to play the quarter-final on 8th April while the Semi-Finals and Final will be held on 10th and 12th April respectively.
Vice-Captain Ishika Chaudhary, who recently made her debut in the Senior squad during the FIH Hockey Pro League, said: "Many of us in the team got an opportunity to play with the Senior team and we also trained alongside them in Bhubaneswar. I feel this experience will definitely help us in the Junior World Cup."
The Indian team also played two warm-up matches against England and Netherlands, both games ended in a draw.