New Delhi: Tenacious, yet skilful midfielder Neha Goyal formed an integral part of the first ever Indian Women’s Hockey Team that reached an Olympic Semi Final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Though the team narrowly missed out on a medal after pushing Great Britain to the edge in the Bronze Medal match, the 24-year-old from Sonepat has some positives to take away from the Indian eves’ historic performance in the Tokyo Games.
“Our performance at the Tokyo Olympics has changed our mentality and given us the self belief to compete with any team in the world. Our win over Australia in the Quarter Final brought about a shift in our mentality. Coming into that match, Australia had topped their Pool by winning all their matches. Defeating them gave us a lot of confidence, which we will carry with us going forward as we prepare to play more important tournaments in the future. Along with a change in our mentality, we have improved our training and fitness levels as well,” said Neha.
Making her Olympic debut for India stands out as a landmark moment for Neha in her career thus far. She admits, “I was nervous before the occasion, but very excited. It has always been my dream to play in the Olympics since I started playing hockey. This was my first time, so I did not take too much pressure upon myself and tried to enjoy the moment. I also gained some confidence in our tours of Argentina and Germany before the Olympics, where I felt that we were able to compete well with some really good teams. In the end, the team performed well, and I was happy with my individual performance over the course of the tournament as well.”
Moving forward, Neha’s ambition is to further polish her individual game so that she can continue to contribute to the success of the team in future competitions. She said, “As a team, our next target is to do well at the Asian Games and the World Cup next year. I am continuing to work on my own game so I can continue to contribute to the team’s fortunes. As a Centre, my job is to be effective on both ends of the field by helping out the defence, as well as the attack. I feel I am a skilful player, and attacking comes more naturally to me, but I want to maintain a balance in my game.”