Rani Rampal first made her debut at tender age of 14, making her the youngest player in the Indian Women’s Hockey team. At the age of 15, she was the youngest player that took part in the 2010 Hockey World Cup. Currently the captain of the Indian Women’s Hockey team, she was a part of the Indian Women’s Team that qualified for the Rio Olympics after a drought of 36 years.
She was conferred the “Best Young Player of the Tournament” award at the Women’s Hockey World Cup 2010, due to her exceptional performance and top goal scoring at the World Cup. She also led the Indian team at the 2018 Asian Games where they won a silver medal, and she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2020.
Rani‘s journey to success has not been an easy one. She has had to overcome many obstacles and challenges to be where she is today. In tweets with Hockey India, she took us through her journey as a youngster.
“Dhanraj Pillay and Luciana Aymar led me to pursue hockey”- Rani Rampal
“Born into a family in Shahbad, Haryana, I was the youngest player in the national team which participated in the 2010 World Cup. Those of you who don’t know about Shahbad, it is home to many international hockey players.” she said. Rani Rampal, Navjot Kaur and Navneet Kaur, who have been selected in the squad for the Tokyo Olympics, are from Shahbad, which is emerging as a hub for up and coming hockey talent.
Rani started training at a local academy. She made her town’s team when she was only 6 years old. She said that Shahabad Hockey Academy will always have a special place in here heart, as she learnt everything about hockey there. She also credited her coach Baldev sir, without who she wouldn’t be where she was today.
“Growing up, I had always idolized the Indian Hockey great Dhanraj Pillay. Along with him, I was also always amazed by the brilliance of my childhood icon, Argentine midfielder Luciana Aymar. They both were probably the reason that led me to pick up a Hockey stick.” she says while talking about her inspirations.
“Though the journey hasn’t been easy, it has been sweet,” says the Hockey Team Captain
“My father used to earn his livelihood as a cart-puller and my brother was a carpenter. So, pursuing my ultimate goal was quite hard. It took me a lot of pleading and requests in front of my parents before I could start following my passion. Though the journey hasn’t been easy, it has been sweet.“
Once Rampal started to play professionally, GoSports Foundation, a sports non-governmental organization provided her with monetary and non-monetary support as her family found it hard to support her dreams financially.
She remembered her seniors by saying that they would give her their old hockey kits to train. She would not be playing hockey if it wasn’t for her seniors.
Rani Rampal credited her success to her late grandfather, who helped start her journey
“To be honest, all the medals I have are because of my late grandfather who encouraged me to start this journey. After years of hard work, there came the moment I was waiting for. I made my debut for the women in blue when I was 15.”
It was a great honour for Rani to play for India at the age of 15, and she was delighted when she was the top scorer. For her, it was an honour to lead Team India in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017 and getting the Silver at the 2018 Asian Games was just the cherry on the top.
Rani is Excited About Performing at the Tokyo Olympics, and Hopefully Winning a Medal for the Country
“My biggest achievement was when the Indian Women’s Team made a return to the Olympic arena after 36 years during Rio 2016. I will always love this sport because of the respect and sense of self-worth it has given me. I will always be grateful for being given the opportunity to lead the Indian Women’s Hockey Team at the Tokyo Olympics.” said Rani Rampal.
Rani Rampal will be leading the Indian women’s hockey team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics this year. The women’s team will be looking to win a medal at the Olympics this year after a long drought. The team is looking strong and ready with just one month left for the Tokyo Olympics to begin.