Not very long ago, while the Kapil Devs and the Leander Paes of India were still local and national heroes, female sportspersons were relatively unknown unless they won Olympic Medals. Things, however, are now changing and women like Sanya Mirza and Saina Nehwal, are as famous and loved as MS Dhoni and Vijender Singh. On her way to join this list of the most celebrated players, is Indian Hockey player, Ritu Rani.
Rani started her hockey journey at the tender age of 14 in 2006, at the Asian Games in Doha. And just three years later, at the 2009 Champions Challenge II in Kazan, Russia, where the Indian team emerged victorious; Ritu Rani ended up finishing as the top scorer with eight goals. Since 2011, she has been the Captain of the Indian Hockey team and under her leadership, India finished third at the 2013 Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur and the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
During many interviews, Rani has shared that team players in India (except men’s cricket, of course,) don’t receive the same level of recognition as Individual players or athletes. So not only are they marginalized because of their gender but also because they play a sport that requires a team. This she believes is unfair as her team works just as hard as every other sportsperson in the country.
It is unfair because unlike Mary Kom or Saina Nehwal, all these players have jobs to support themselves. Previously, Rani was employed with the Railways but not long ago, she quit her job to join the Haryana Police force. In an interview with the Times of India, when asked about whether she dreads working in the kitchen, Rani replied: “Hockey khel li, roti bhi bana lenge jab time aayega. Zyada mushkil cheez toh kar chuke hain.”
Last month, the 23 year-old player, was the Indian star of FIH World League tournament and completed her 200 matches for the country. It was also recently announced that Rani will now lead the Indian hockey team in Hawkes bay cup that will be held in New Zealand from April 11 to 19. We here at SheThePoeple.TV wish Ritu Rani great luck and hope that she brings home the cup we all are waiting for.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: NDTV Sports]