The Indian junior women’s hockey team was felicitated by Hockey India here on Wednesday for its third-place finish at the FIH junior World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany.
All players and chief coach Neil Hawgood were awarded Rs. 1 lakh each, while other support staff earned Rs. 50,000 individually.
Player-of-the-tournament Rani was given another Rs. 1 lakh for her achievement.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, captain Sushila Chanu said her team was under pressure after losing the semifinal but the players’ self-belief helped them post victory over England in the bronze medal play-off.
Asked to explain her approach to leadership, the 21-year-old said, “I just tell them to be happy and talk positively. This is how I guide them.”
Coach Hawgood claimed that the team’s achievement did not surprise him.
“At every team meeting we told the girls, ‘Pressure changes people, don’t let this change you.’ In the semifinal, we were only 0-1 down till the 58th minute against the best junior team in the world (Netherlands),” said the Australian.
Hawgood chose India’s 4-2 win over Spain in the quarterfinals as the team’s best performance in the tournament. Despite losing the semifinal, the coach believed, the team did not lose its focus which helped the players perform well against England.
“We now have the ability to change structures midway through a game.
“We played a totally different structure against the Netherlands and managed to create chances. After the match, the Dutch high performance manager came to us and said it was one of the best structures he had seen India play in years,” said Hawgood.
Citing the girls’ consistent showing in six matches over nine days, the Australian said the players were fitter than ever.
Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry announced a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 to each player.
The coaches got Rs. 25,000 each.