Salima Tete, Sangita Kumari, Nikki Pradhan excited to perform in front of home fans at Women's Asian Champions Trophy 2023

Salima Tete HockeyRanchi: With just a week to go for the start of the prestigious Jharkhand Women’s Asian Champions Trophy Ranchi 2023, Indian Women's Hockey Team players Salima Tete, Nikki Pradhan, and Sangita Kumari, who all hail Jharkhand, expressed their excitement for the upcoming tournament. The tournament, which will take place from 27th October to 5th November, will see India competing alongside Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Savita will be leading the Indian Women's Hockey Team in the tournament with Deep Grace Ekka as her deputy. India will open their campaign in the tournament against Thailand on Friday, 27th October 2023.

Indian Women's Hockey Team forward Sangita expressed excitement about returning to Ranchi for the major tournament, saying, "I played my first tournament in Ranchi when I was in the U-14 team, and we won the Bronze medal for Hockey Jharkhand. Later on, I played at the Sub Junior level here as well. However, this will be my first time competing in such a major international event in Ranchi. I can't wait to walk out in front of the home fans, who will be out in force to show their support."

Sangita has fond memories of playing matches in the city when she was younger, and she feels proud of the growth of hockey in the state. "When I arrived at the hostel, there were few facilities available. Previously, only a few players emerged from the state. However, Jharkhand now has many players on the National Team. All the required facilities, including hockey turfs and equipment, are available here. Over the years, Hockey India and the Jharkhand government have worked hard to ensure the growth of hockey in the state."

After their first match against Thailand, India will take on Malaysia on Saturday, 28th October 2023. India will face off against China in their third game on Monday, 30th October 2023, and then compete against Japan on Tuesday, 31st October 2023. India will play their final pool game against Korea on Thursday, 2nd November. The Semi-Finals and Final of the tournament will be played on Saturday, 4th November 2023, and Sunday, 5th November 2023, respectively.

Meanwhile, Indian Women's Hockey Team defender Nikki Pradhan, who has already earned over 150 International Caps for India, said that the tournament will help the young players in the state.

"I am happy that Hockey India and the Jharkhand government decided to organise such a prestigious tournament here in Ranchi. Hockey is growing in the state, and this tournament will further boost the rise of the sport. Soon, there will come a time when our state will be known by its best hockey players. Our young players here in the state will also get to learn a lot from this tournament."

Nikki also revealed that her family members are looking forward to seeing international hockey being played in Ranchi as well, and she expects them to pack the stadiums after the tournament begins.

"This will be the first time an international event of this calibre is being played here in Ranchi. All my family members, cousins, and friends are so excited and keep calling me asking to check when the matches will begin. I am confident that all of them will be a part of the crowd. It makes me a bit nervous but I am also equally excited to perform in front of my loved ones."

This will be the seventh edition of the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy. The Indian Women's Hockey Team won the title in 2016 and finished as the runners-up in 2018. Hence, the team will aim to continue the good show and finish on the podium.

Indian Women's Hockey Team midfielder Salima Tete said that the Indian team will benefit from the fact that they have played in the conditions in Ranchi before. "Three members of our team have grown up playing hockey in Jharkhand and are all well-versed with the atmosphere and conditions here in Ranchi. Many of us have also played across several domestic tournaments here in the state, and hence, we are confident of adjusting to the surroundings quickly and making necessary adjustments which will give us an advantage in the tournament."

Salima, who hails from Simdega district, further stated that she wants to put forth her best in the tournament to help her side claim the Gold medal. "The tournament is a good chance for us to prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics Qualifiers. I want to give my best in the tournament, and we as a team, want to improve certain areas before the crucial matches in January. The Jharkhand Women’s Asian Champions Trophy Ranchi 2023 is an important tournament for us to continue our growth as a team," Salima signed off.