Hockey: 'NWHL will give opportunities to youngsters to show their abilities', says ex-goalkeeper Yogita Bali

April 26, 2024
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Yogita Bali has expressed her support for Hockey India’s holistic initiatives aimed at advancing the sport across all levels

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Former Indian women’s hockey team goalkeeper Yogita Bali has expressed her support for Hockey India’s holistic initiatives aimed at advancing the sport across all levels, with a special emphasis on the eagerly anticipated National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

Set to make its debut in Ranchi, Jharkhand from April 30 to May 9, the National Women’s Hockey League 2024-25 stands as a landmark event in Indian women’s hockey, promising a captivating showcase of talent and skill. Featuring teams comprising top performers from the 14th Senior Women National Championship 2024, the league represents a significant step forward for the women’s game.

Speaking about the significance of the league, Yogita said, “The National Women’s Hockey League marks a monumental leap forward for the development of women’s hockey in India. It provides a vital platform for players to showcase their skills and gain invaluable experience in high-pressure situations.”

The 36-year-old also emphasized the league’s role as a stepping stone for players aspiring to compete in the Hockey India League (HIL) and said, “With the imminent arrival of the Hockey India League later this year, the National Women’s Hockey League assumes a pivotal role as a training ground for players, providing them with invaluable opportunities to assess their abilities and navigate pressure scenarios. Particularly for young players, this tournament offers a priceless chance to absorb insights and lessons from their senior players, enriching their developmental journey in the sport.”

In addition to the league, Hockey India’s commitment to nurturing talent is evident through its comprehensive grassroots development program. Bali commended the initiative, particularly the ongoing specialised camps for budding goalkeepers and drag-flickers across the country. “It’s a great initiative by Hockey India,” she noted.

“These camps provide young athletes with the opportunity to learn from former players who have excelled in these positions and have years of experience, thus fostering a culture of excellence and mentorship.”

Notably, former goalkeepers and drag-flickers, among them Yogita herself, have been selected to spearhead rigorous three-day training programs at top-tier national academies across the country. These camps are designed to pinpoint and refine the abilities of aspiring athletes striving to master these critical roles within the sport.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Yogita expressed confidence in the Indian men’s hockey team, despite their recent series loss against Australia. “The Indian team stands a strong chance of finishing on the podium in the upcoming Olympics. Despite setbacks in the recent matches against Australia, the series loss serves as a valuable learning opportunity for the Indian team. It has enabled the team to recognize areas for improvement, motivating them to refine their strategies and elevate their performance for Paris.

“In essence, the defeat has served as a blessing in disguise ahead of the quadrennial event, granting the team crucial insights into the adjustments needed to compete effectively against the world’s top teams.”

–IANS

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