The Indian women's hockey team led by Sushila Chanu (Captain) and Deepika Thakur (Vice-Captain) are all set to start off strongly at USA Tour, where they will play three practice games against Canada and two games against USA.
The tour is the last of the many international exposure matches planned ahead of the upcoming Rio Olympics from August 5-21. Apart from skipper Sushila Chanu and Vice-Captian Deepika Thakur, the squad includes the experienced Navjot Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Savita, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Namita Toppo, Renuka Yadav, Sunita Lakra, Rani, Preeti Dubey and Lilima Minz.
The two reserve players are Hnialum Lal Ruat Feli and Rajani Etimmarpu. "We have selected the best players for the squad who have earned their place purely on the basis of merit. These players have put forth their best performance, have displayed hunger and trained hard for the spot. This is the first time this team is going to experience the aura of being at the Olympics, it is a big moment for all of them. Each athlete in the team is both physically and mentally strong for the task ahead of us", said chief coach Neil Hawgood.
"While this is the happiest moment for us to be a part of the Olympics for the first time, there is an equal amount of responsibility. Every match before Rio is crucial and gives an opportunity to reinforce what we have learnt during the training. This tour will serve as the apt warm-up for Rio Olympics and every step from here takes us closer to turn the dream into a reality. Each player has only one mission on their mind and the coach has given us immense support and confidence. Now it is our turn to play our best," said Captain Sushila Chanu.
India play their first match of the tour on 18 July at 04:00 am IST against USA.