The hockey star Rani Rampal earned herself the moniker ‘Olympian Rani’ as her team awaits an Olympic nomination this year. She was instrumental in winning the silver medal for the Indian team in the Asia Cup held in Nov 2009. After playing with India’s national team at 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Asian Games, Rani Rampal was included in the FIH Women’s All Star Team of 2010.

Rani’s Shahabad is a town with a rigid, feudal society where the system of khap panchayat still rules.

We bring you ten things to know her better:

  1. Rani was adjudged “The Top Goal Scorer” and the “Young Player of the Tournament” at the 2009 Champion’s Challenge Tournament.  At the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup, she scored a total of seven goals, which placed India in the ninth position in World Women’s hockey rankings. This is India’s best performance since 1978. She is the only Indian to be nominated for the FIH Women’s Young Player of the Year Award, 2010.
  2. She’s India’s finest forward in women’s hockey. She is a striker who often doubles as a mid-fielder. Her electric speed, superior stick work, ball sense and confidence have won her many accolades and matches.
  3. She is only 20-years-old. She made her senior India debut when she was 14, making her the youngest player in the Indian team. In comparison, Sachin Tendulkar made his India debut when he was 16.
  4. In the recent World Hockey League semifinals in Belgium, she scored the equaliser and the final sudden-death goal in a must-win match against Italy, before scoring the win against Japan in the last do-or-die encounter. Her decisive interventions meant India finished fifth.

    Shahabad in Haryana produces the single biggest assembly line of women’s hockey players in India.

  5. She hails from a little town in Haryana called Shahabad, which produces the single biggest assembly line of women’s hockey players in India. About 45 players have represented India at senior and junior levels. Shahabad is to women’s hockey what Sansarpur was to men’s hockey, or what Mumbai has been to the Indian team. No wonder the movie ‘Chak De! India’ was set there.
  6. Rani’s Shahabad is a town with a rigid, feudal society where the system of khap panchayat still rules. The town’s sex ratio (860) is significantly worse than the rest of the state (879), which in turn is the worst in the country. Her parents faced a backlash when they first enrolled her in the hockey academy.
  7. At the age of 6 she got enrolled in the town’s hockey academy. Her stellar coach, Baldev Singh, first rejected her for being too young, but changed his mind as he was amazed at her agility and talent. She became the youngest player in the academy. Baldev Singh went on to win the Dronacharya award, the highest decoration for a coach in India.

    There is an inherent bias in Indian hockey, Indian sport and the Indian attitude in general. In India, daughters are not encouraged to play and money is tough to find.

  8. When she’s not playing, she works as a junior clerk in the railways.
  9. Her father is a horse-cart puller and money is tight. Male players earn big bucks in the Hockey Indian League, too, while there is no such thing for a women’s hockey player.
  10. There is an inherent bias in Indian hockey, Indian sport and the Indian attitude in general. In India daughters are not encouraged to play and money is tough to find. No wonder then that Rani feels that a shot at the Olympics will give her a job better than the one she has right now, and provide some sort of financial security to her family. Pitiable state of affairs for a sportswoman of her talent and stature.

Also Read: Rani Rampal To Lead Women’s Team In Hockey World League Semi-Finals