Gurjit Kaur Leads Women’s Hockey Team Closer To Olympic Dream
Penalty corner specialist Gurjit Kaur scored brilliantly and led the Indian Women’s Hockey team to a remarkable start at the Olympic test event with a resilient 2-1 victory over hosts Japan at the Oi Hockey Stadium here on Saturday.
The Olympic test event is highly important for the team to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An early score of 1-0 lead by Gurjit gave India a lead and then the resulting drag-flick from her was struck beautifully. She beat the Japanese goalkeeper Megumi Kageyama to give India an early lead.
Who is Drag Flicker Gurjit Kaur?
India’s skipper and Captain Rani Rampal is always backed by defender Gurjit Kaur and if she plays, well-converted Penalty Corners are expected.
- Hailing from the Miadi Kalan village in Amritsar, Punjab, Gurjit Kaur is the defender and designated drag flicker in the team.
- Kaur played an instrumental role in contributing decisive goals since the Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Women’s Hockey Asia Cup, 2017. She led the goal-scoring charts with eight goals.
- The 22-year-old is employed in the North Central Railway Zone in Allahabad, where she is appointed as a clerk.
- Kaur found her passion for Hockey in a boarding school in Kairon in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab. It happened to be one of the oldest and most famous women’s hockey nurseries, and her excellence in the sport was soon discovered.
- Initially, when she was getting to know the game, her training in Hockey was completed under international player Pushpa Srivastava.
- Kaur got a chance to play for the country when she was called for the Senior National Camp in 2014. But she couldn’t secure a place in the team until 2017. Once she got the chance, there was no looking back. She played in the Test series in Canada in March 2017, the Hockey World League in April 2017 and the Hockey World League semi-finals in July 2017.
- The Dutch head coach Sjoerd Marijne encouraged her to change her stick to get better at drag-flicking.
“I didn’t know much about drag-flicking when I started off,” Kaur admits in an interview. “I used to do the lift-push routine on grass. You can’t exactly call that drag-flicking, can you? But when I came into the camp, my knowledge kept improving and I learnt the right techniques. I also trained under Toon Siepman (a Dutch coach) last year and that helped me a lot.”
- The Jalandhar girl, during the Asia Cup, shone with a single goal against Singapore while it was an overall 10-0 victory. She improved her performance as the tournament progressed. A pool of goals came from the defender against China and Japan, but the one that made a historic moment was in the match against Kazakhstan. She ensured a hat-trick through penalty corners. She was adjudged the tournament’s third-highest goal scorer with eight goals.
- In the semi-finals against Japan, Kaur particularly struck two goals within the first 10 minutes. This eventually helped India emerge as the defending champions.
- Kaur also made an impressive performance at the Commonwealth Games 2018, held in Australia.
- The team fought a five-match series against the Spanish national team, and finished with a triumphant 4-1 win. In the final match, Kaur scored two goals alongside skipper Rampal, who also scored two goals, and brought the final score to 4-1
“Pressure is there since I am the only drag flicker,” Kaur says. “There is also a sense of support. The trust the team has in you can add pressure, but once I’m on the field, my focus shifts completely to the match and I have never allowed pressure to get the better of me.”
- As of July 2018, Kaur has played 53 international matches.
- Kaur played an instrumental role in leading India women’s hockey team in the quarterfinals of the Hockey World Cup 2018 in England. This was a milestone for India since the team qualified for the quarter-final for the first time in 40 years.
Kudos to you, Gurjit Kaur!
Feature Image Credit: Hockey India