The Indian women’s Hockey team have made it to the Olympics after 36 long years and one can sense that good times lie ahead in context of the Indian hockey scenario. We at Sports Rediscovered spoke to former Indian woman hockey player and 1980 Olympian Selma D’Silva and she is elated upon the entry of the Indian eves into Rio 2016. A disciplined effort at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium earned them a place into the main draw of the Olympics.
Selma Juliet Christina D’Silva is a former Indian women’s hockey team captain who played for India in the 1982 Asian Games and the 1983 Women’s hockey world cup in Kuala Lumpur apart from the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The Indian women did exceedingly well throughout the tournament but fell agonizingly short of winning a medal for their country as they finished fourth in the points table. She has also been honoured with the Padma Shri award in 1991. Here are excerpts from her interview:
SR: Ma’am, the Indian women’s hockey team has made it to Rio 2016, thereby ending a 36-year long wait. Your thoughts on this?
Selma: Proud. Happy. Excited. It is a great achievement by the girls and they have worked very hard for this.
SR: What do you think took them so long?
Selma: There are a plenty of factors that came their way. Teams have become more competitive, we have a different system of qualification and the players had to play to the standards of the World leaders. They have done that to a great extent this year and we have the result of the same.
SR: How were the circumstances 36 years ago? How easy or difficult was it for your team to come forward as a unit and be able to represent India at the Olympics?
Selma: We were a very good team. We knew our strengths and were pretty much aware with our roles as individuals. We played very well at the Olympics but narrowly missed out on a chance to play for a medal. That still remains as a disappointment for me.
SR: What is your opinion on the current Indian women’s hockey team? Would you like to highlight any technical aspect where the team can improve going into Rio 2016?
Selma: Over the last few months, the team has looked in good shape and I’m sure they will give a tough time to their opponents. They should not concede goals in the first 10-15 minutes as that would put them under tremendous pressure. Finishing has been a traditional problem for us and the team needs to work on that. There has been good chance creation but there needs to be someone who can land the final punch.
SR: Any players who you would consider to be the key for success at Rio 2016?
Selma: Every player in the squad will have an important role to play. To name a few players I think Rani Rampal, Deepika Thakur, Anuradha Devi, Poonam Rani and Sushila Chanu will be the key players in the Indian lineup. I am sure that Sushila’s appointment as team captain would give her that much needed morale boost going into Rio 2016. The primary target for the team should be sealing a spot in the knockout stage.