Young Indian women’s hockey team striker Lalremsiami says skipper Rani Rampal and her deputy Savita Punia played a big role in keeping the players motivated during their over two-and-a-half month’s confinement at the SAI South Centre in Bengaluru due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
Lalremsiami, one of youngest members of the Indian women’s hockey team, said senior players like Rani and Savita kept the morale of the players high during the lockdown.
“Had it not been for seniors in the team like Rani and Savita, who played a huge role in keeping us youngsters motivated, it would have been difficult for us to spend so many days in our hostel rooms with barely any activity apart from some fitness workouts in our rooms,” said Lalremsiami, who hails from Mizoram.
Lalremsiami, Salima Tete, Rajwinder Kaur and Sharmila are some of the new entrants to the Indian women’s hockey team set up and have climbed up the ranks swiftly with commendable performances at the international stage.
“At first, when SAI went into a lockdown in mid-March, we (youngsters) never understood the gravity of the situation but followed the rules of not going outside the campus. It was only when we attended a brief talk/presentation by a team of doctors who explained about the pandemic that we realised it was a serious issue and we need to be vigilant all the time,” she said. “The seniors also spoke to us about the situation and encouraged us to speak out if we had any issues.”
Lalremsiami said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard constantly checked on the players and ensured that they were doing well.
“But senior players went out of their way to help us and ensure we don’t feel home sick. They would keep us busy with their stories in the Indian team and experiences from Rio Olympics. These stories inspired me to play for India at the Olympics.”
Lalremsiami is currently in institutional quarantine at her home town Kolasib in Mizoram following the one-month break given by Hockey India earlier this month.
“Initially, I had decided not to go home because of the 21-day institutional quarantine which is compulsory as per state rules. But it has been more than four months since I met my mother and the rest of family. I was really drawn towards seeing them because once we return to SAI Centre Bengaluru on 19 July, my focus will only be on hockey,” she said.
“The DC (District Collector) has ensured I have a comfortable stay during the quarantine and they check on me everyday. I am very thankful to the state government for showing so much care and concern. It feels good to be back in my home state.”
The team will regroup at SAI, Bengaluru on July 19.