Playing in CWG final would have been huge but bronze too is a major achievement: Hockey player Grace Ekka

Bengaluru: India’s ace women’s hockey defender Deep Grace Ekka has revealed that while playing in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games final would have been huge, standing on the podium with the bronze medal too is a big achievement and a morale booster for the side.

As Grace Ekka and the women’s core group returned to the Sports Authority of India’s campus in Bengaluru after a short break post the CWG to begin preparations for the FIH Women’s Hockey Nations Cup in Valencia (Spain) later this year, the defender said, “We would have liked to play the final in Birmingham for sure, but winning bronze was a big achievement for us. Standing on the podium is a moment we will never forget. It’s a big morale booster for the entire team.”

The women’s hockey team has had quite a fruitful last 12 months, starting with the momentous 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and culminating with bronze at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. They will now turn their attention to the Women’s Hockey Nations Cup in Valencia, Spain, beginning December 10.

Grace Ekka hopes the team can continue to build on the momentum going ahead.

“We did well in Birmingham, but now that is a closed chapter. We have had a good break and now we have to get back to work. I am sure chief coach Janneke Schopman will assess our previous performance and plan the upcoming days in camp accordingly.”

Captained by Savita, the squad is set for a longish camp before their next outing and the experienced defender expects to be put through the hard yards ahead of their next assignment.

“We have to do well in Spain in the FIH Women’s Hockey Nations Cup, and for that the preparation begins from today. It won’t be easy but training hard and doing the right things repeatedly during our sessions is the only thing we can do,” she explained.

The one-week long tournament in Spain will see the winners get promoted to the FIH Hockey Pro League (Women’s). The Indian women’s team finished third in their debut campaign in the Pro League 2021/22 season.

“Our aim in Spain will be to progress to the FIH Hockey Women’s Pro League and for that we have to win the Nations Cup. Our target is in front of us, now it’s up to us to make sure we build in the correct direction,” the veteran of 240 games added.

(IANS)

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