Women hockey in India needs to work more on speed, physical toughness and endurance, said Indian women hockey team captain Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam.
Indian women hockey’s first appearance in Olympic Games after 36 years was not that impressive as they conceded a number of goals at the hands of Great Britain, Australia, USA and Australia although they managed to pulled out a 2-2 draw in their opening match with Japan in Rio De Jenerio. Indian women team played last time in Rome Games in 1980.
Sushila said, “We are a young team and all the players appeared in the Olympic for the first time. We have learnt a lot from Rio and hopefully the girls will come back with better performance from Asian Hockey Champions Trophy and Test Series with Australia.”
However, the 24-year-old halfback from Manipur will skip these two tournaments due to a knee injury suffered during training in March this year.
Sushila is likely to undergo surgery in the second week of September in Bengaluru.
She said, “No doubt the team has experienced lots of improvement ever since Neil Hawgood took over the charge of team coach, I think we still need to brush up things on certain skills like fast-passing and tackling.”
Sushila observed that Indian players are excellent in ball possessing skills but lacking in physical toughness and endurance when compared with foreign players.
Sushila who has also captained Indian junior women hockey team who were adjudged bronze in Germany further said that most countries play very fast hockey these days, so Indian team need to work more on speed as well.
Regarding Manipur, Sushila opined that the State needs to lay more astro turfs so that aspiring players can be groomed properly.
Manipur now has only one astro turf at Khuman Lampak and players are allowed to practice there only in the morning, she said and added that this is really not enough to support the players.
Four hockey players from Manipur – Sushila Chanu and Anuradha Thokchom in women’s team and Kothajit and Chinglensana in men’s team represented India in Rio Olympic.
Manipur has produced many international hockey players with Ksh Thoiba and Neelkomol being the most famous.
Thoiba who is known for his lightening ball carrying skills is fondly referred to as the ‘Maradona of Hockey’. His performance in Seoul Olympic 1988 is still remembered by hockey lovers all over the country.
Tiken Singh and Brojen Singh had also represented India in many international tournaments.
In women’s hockey, Surajlata Devi and Tinggongleima had captained Indian senior women hockey team while players like Rani Devi and Sanggai Chanu had played for India.
Photo Credit: Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam
SUSHILA’S BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam was born to Pukhrambam Shyamsundar and Pukhrambam Ongbi Lata at Thangmeiband Hijam Dewan Leikai in Imphal West district on February 25, 1992.
She is the second daughter of their parents among three siblings. She has an elder sister and a younger brother.
Her great grandfather Pukhrambam Angangcha was a famous polo player of his time. He had a pony called ‘Manaobi’.
Since childhood Sushila loves sports and she took part in Yaoshang Sports organised at his locality. Understanding her sporting talents, her uncle Pukhrambam Robindro admitted her at Posterior Hockey Academy in 2002.
Within a few years, young Sushila began to demonstrate her inborn skills and take part in Inter-school National Tournament, Sub-junior National Tournament and Junior National Tournament.
During this time, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Gwalior was looking for junior players to groom them for International competitions. As Sushila’s talent was well witnessed at National tournaments by the selectors, she was chosen for the first batch of the academy in 2006.
Since then, there was no looking back and her selection in Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Gwalior turned out to be a turning point in her career.
She received hockey training as well as education at the academy for four years.
When she was at the academy, Sushila represented Madhya Pradesh in National tournaments.
In 2008, Sushila got to play her first international match in Asia Cup (held in Malaysia) wherein India were adjudged third place.
In 2010 she joined Central Railways, Mumbai as Junior TC as she passed out from Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Gwalior.
After U-19 Asia Cup Hockey Tournament held in China in 2009, Sushila could not find a place in the National squad due to fitness issues for a quite long period of time.
However, she did not lose hard and keep on working hard. At last, she was again brought back to India’s senior team in the 9th Series Hockey tournament held in Australia and Olympic qualifying rounds in 2012 and World League round in New Delhi.
In 2013, selectors handed over captaincy of India’s junior team for Junior Hockey World Cup held in Germany. Sushila did not let down the selectors and well-wishers as she returned home with the bronze medal.
In 2014, she was part of the Indian team which won bronze at 17th Asian Games held at Incheon, Korea.
On 16 July, 2016, Sushila was named as the captain of the Indian team which would take part in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. Indian women hockey was qualified for Olympic after 36 years.
Sushila has also taken part in the 3rd Women’s Asian Champions Trophy, Kakamighara, Japan in 2013. India won silver medal.
She was also part of the National team at 6th Junior Women Asia Cup, Bangkok, Thailand in 2012 wherein India was adjudged runners’ up.
In 2013, she took part in the 3rd Women’s Asian Champions Trophy at Kakamighara, Gifu, Japan. India won silver in the tournament.
Although Sushila received her early education from Lilashing Khongnangkhong High School, Imphal, she passed her Matriculation and Class XII under Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education. She is currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts at Liberal College, Luwangshangbam. When she was a student of Lilashing Khongnangkhong High School, she was elected as the Games and Sports Secretary of the school.