Accolades, rewards for junior women's hockey team after podium finish

New Delhi/Chandigarh/ Bhubaneswar, Aug 5 (IANS) The "historic" feat achieved by the Indian team in winning the bronze medal in the junior women's World cup in Germany Sunday has brought them accolades and rewards from all around.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announed a cash award of Rs.5 lakh each for the six players from the state who were a part of the squad, while his Odisha counterpart announced a cash award of Rs.1.25 lakh each for the four players from the state.Hooda had initially announed an award of Rs.3 lakh each.

Of the six Haryana girls, five were from Shahbad town, 65 km from Chandigarh, and one from Jissar. The Odisha girls were from Sundergarh district.

Senior men's hockey coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik praised the junior girls for their historic World Cup medal and attributed the success to their exposure with the senior team.

India beat England 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out Sunday after the teams had ended 1-1 in regulation time in the German city of Monchengladbach and lifted their first World Cup medal.

Of the 18 team members, 13 have been a part of the core probables in the senior team and that is what worked for India, said Kaushik, also a former women's coach.

"Most of them have been a part of the senior squad so that has given them ample experience," Kaushik told IANS.

"Except for the Odisha girls, everyone else has been in the senior squad for quite some time and that has given them crucial exposure," said the Olympic gold medallist.

Former India men's hockey captain Pargat Singh also applauded the girls but felt more needed to be done to improve their performances.

"It is a good beginning. We should encourage these girls further and provide them with whatever they need to be the best," Pargat Singh told IANS.

"In women's hockey a proper mechanism is yet to be established. It is necessary to give these girls job security so that they can put all their focus on the sport," he said.

He advocated the need for corporate to pitch in to support women's hockey in the country.

Five girls from the Shahbad Hockey Academy were part of the Indian squad.

Of them, two - Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur - led from the front to ensure a podium finish for their team.

Vice captain Rani scored the team's solitary goal in regulation time of the bronze clash with Englande. Both teams were locked at 1-1 at the end of stipulated time. Rani scored twice again when the match went into the penalty shootout.

Her team-mate Navneet missed one penalty stroke but recovered in time to score with her second chance and give India a 3-2 victory over England.

"We are proud of the girls here. Their victory has given women hockey its golden moment. They worked very hard for it," coach Baldev Singh told IANS in Shahbad.

The other players from this town were Manjit Kaur, Navjot and Monika.

Family members and friends were excited that girls from the town had brought laurels by winning the bronze.

"We will give them a big reception when they return. They have done us proud," local resident Babita Rani said.

The Odisha players in the squad are Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Anupa Barla and Deep Grace Ekka.

Sundergarh in the past has thrown up star players like former captain Dilip Tirkey, William Xalco, Ignace Tirkey and his brother Prabodh. They have all represented India at the Olympics.

Namita, Lilima and Anupa Barla are also trainees at the government sports hostel in Panposh near the steel city of Rourkela.

Hockey coach A.N. Bihari, who is also in-charge of the sports hostel, told IANS that that they are planning a grand welcome for the trio.

After their triumph, the team is expected to arrive in New Delhi Tuesday.

Punjab, once a hotbed for both men and women hockey players, did not have a direct representation in the junior hockey team. In the winning squad, only two girls were part of the Chandigarh state team.

Addressing the situation, Pargat Singh said: "We still produce a lot of hockey players but we are losing our players to teams like Railways because we are not able to provide any job security. I hope this scenario changes soon."

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Indian women hockey team for winning the first ever bronze medal in junior Women's Hockey World Cup.

"Congratulations... A historic feat," Modi tweeted.

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