GUWAHATI: Mizoram has achieved many successes in football, but when it comes to hockey, the state has never been able to replicate the success achieved on the football field. Until recently, the state had not sent a single hockey player to the national team.
Which makes the achievements of the Mizoram Junior Women’s Hockey Team even more amazing. The team won the silver medal in the inaugural Hockey India Junior Women East Zone Championship 2023.
More interestingly, Mizoram finished ahead of hockey powerhouse Odisha in the tournament held at Khunti near Ranchi. In the summit clash against the hosts, Mizoram came close to the gold medal after registering 2-2 in regulation time, before Jharkhand prevailed 2-1 in the shootout.
Mizoram had earlier finished second in Pool A with four wins from five games.
For a state with few hockey training academies, Mizoram has so far produced a single player in Lalremsiami, the charismatic forward who went on to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics where the women’s team will compete in 2021. Finished a shocking fourth place.
Lalremsiami, from Kolasib, about 80 km from Aizawl, who was selected for the state government-run program in Thenzawl in 2016, acknowledged the lack of training facilities in her early days. He was extremely happy with the progress of the junior team, with many young players coming up the ranks quickly thanks to Hockey India’s ‘Har Ghar Ho Hockey Ki Pehachan’ programme.
Lalremsiami’s career began when he was selected as a trainee at the National Hockey Academy in New Delhi where she proved her talent. Her breakthrough came in 2016 when she was selected in the Under-18 Junior Indian team for the Under-18 Junior Asia Cup.
She became the first player from Mizoram to play for India at the 2018 Asian Games, where India won the silver medal. In 2021, she then became the first from the state to participate in the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“When I started the sport about eight-nine years ago, there were fewer players playing hockey because the focus was more on football. I joined the national program after being selected for the National Hockey Academy in New Delhi. Aya. But now many players in the state are coming from far-flung districts as the state association is actively hosting camps and local events,” she said, recalling her journey.
Praising the young guns from her state, the 23-year-old forward said, “We are all extremely proud of our junior team for their stellar performance in the inaugural Hockey India Junior Women’s East Zone Championship 2023. Their determination, hard work, And the team spirit was truly admirable and inspired us all, and I would like to congratulate them for rising to the occasion!
“I am very proud and happy to see more players coming to the junior camps from the North East. Many youngsters now feel that they can make a career out of hockey which will provide for themselves and their families financially. But will help provide a stable life,” added the attacking forward who also doubles as a half-back.
Talking about her rise to the Indian women’s ranks, Siami said, “It’s been a great journey so far. I never imagined that I would play more than 100 matches for India so quickly in my career. I still have a long way to go and it has been great to be a part of the new era of the Indian women’s hockey team where we are doing well in top international tournaments.
After this, the team is looking to further improve its performance in the upcoming Asian Games in China. In 2018, the team ended its campaign with a silver medal and in 2014 it won a bronze medal.
“In 2018, we lost a close final to Japan. As youngsters at the time, some were quite happy to win the silver medal but in hindsight, I feel like we came so close to a historic gold medal. “Our aim is to win the gold medal this time and qualify for the Olympics for the third time in a row,” Siami said.
The Indian women’s team is currently staying at Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru for the national camp.
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