"I feel honoured to represent my country on the big stage," expressed Sunelita Toppo, the hockey sensation who is part of the Indian team competing at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Junior Women's World Cup 2023. The game which will be held in Santiago Chile, will commence on November 29, with India playing against Canada on the first day. 16-year-old Toppo, is thrilled to showcase her skills on the world stage.
Toppo is a forward player in the Indian Women's Junior Hockey team. In spite of her young age, Toppo was shortlisted for the Senior Women’s National Coaching Camp, scheduled to take place from November 22 to December 10 at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Bengaluru. She will be trained for the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Ranchi 2024 set to begin in January. Her sportsmanship has helped her achieve glorious feats as one of India's most prominent women in sports.
Who Is Sunelita Toppo?
Sunelita Toppo was born on April 11, 2007 in Kukuda, Odisha, to a farmer family. She picked up the hockey stick at the age of eight, and first professional training at the Sports Authority of India Training Centre in Sundargarh, Odisha. Toppo has faced many hurdles, but her determination towards hockey rendered her undefeatable. In 2018, Toppo suffered a shoulder injury, but that did not stop her either.
"When I first started playing hockey, I did not have proper sticks. I had to resort to playing with bamboo sticks. However, later on, a relative came to my rescue with the necessary equipment after learning about my passion for hockey," she told Hockey India.
She went on to represent Odisha in the National Games in Gujarat in 2022, and following her impressive performance, she was selected for the National Camp. She made her debut Indian Junior Women's Hockey Team at the Junior Women's Asia Cup in 2023 and has played four major matches so far.
She was part of the team that won Gold at the Women's Junior Asia Cup Hockey Tournament Kakamigahara, Japan in June. She was also part of the junior team that won third place at the 4-nations Invitational Tournament in Germany's Dusseldorf in August. In February, her team won four matches and drew one during their South Africa tour.
On her upcoming World Cup, Toppo told Hockey India, "Our team comprises some of the best players who have performed exceptionally well over the past year. We have gained invaluable experience from competing in various tournaments, and we are confident that this will help us perform to the best of our abilities in the tournament... The tournament will feature top teams from around the world, and we are eager to showcase our prowess against them. The dressing room is buzzing with excitement, and we are all looking forward to the start of the tournament. Our aim is to achieve positive results and earn a podium finish."