She infuses a breath of fresh air into the Indian forwardline that already boasts of experienced strikers like Rani Rampal and Poonam Rani. Vandana Katariya has been one of the most talked-about players in the Indian women hockey team. The 22-year-old Uttarakhand girl, who slammed 11 goals in the Hockey World League Round 2 Event to emerge as the tournament’s top goal-scorer, scoring two hat-tricks against Ghana and Singapore along the way. A member of the 2013 Junior World Cup bronze-winning team, Vandana also won the Hockey India’s best women player award for 2014.
The soft-spoken striker, whose elder sister Rita Kataria also played for Railways, spoke to Sports Rediscovered in an exclusive interview.
Q You emerged as one of the finds in the Indian forwardline in the Hockey World League Round 2 Event in New Delhi.
I was happy to contribute to the team’s cause. Although I was the top goal-scorer in the tournament I still believe I should have score more goals considering the opposition we faced.
Q You were part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal in the 2013 Junior World Cup in Monchengladbach. How satisfying was it to be part of that team.
Winning a medal in a World Cup is huge and I personally had a good tournament scoring goals for my team.
Q Indian women’s hockey team stop-gap coach Roelant Oltmans feels you are one of the world’s best forwards around. Your thoughts.
It is nice to know that Roelant Oltmans Sir thinks highly of me. My job is to keep performing and help my team do well.
Q What would you attribute your recent consistent performance?
I think probably self-belief was earlier not there, but now I have gained experience and this has helped to cope well with the pressures of handling any opposition.
Q India last featured in the Olympics in 1980 at Moscow. Do you think India stand a good chance of making it to the 2016 Rio Olympics?
Oh yes! Our girls are really working hard and playing as a team. Most of the teams we are facing in the Hawke’s Bay Cup will be playing in the Hockey World League semifinals. So the New Zealand tourney will be handy preparation for us. Our girls are playing together for a long time now and except for one or two players the rest of the girls are young, which will help us in the long run.
Q Hockey runs in your family. Your sister also played hockey.
Yeah, my elder sister Rita Kataria played for Railways and is a national games medallist.
Q Do you think there is a need for a women’s Hockey India League?
I think it will be great for women’s hockey. The talent net will spread wide and there will be more competition for places, which will be good for Indian hockey.
Q What are the other things you do when not playing hockey?
I like to do shopping whenever I have free time.