Sr Women’s Hockey Nationals: Manipur, Mizoram illuminate the rise of hockey in Northeast India

March 22, 2024
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Manipur and Mizoram, two states synonymous with their rich traditions and picturesque terrains,

Pune, March 22 (IANS) Manipur and Mizoram, two states synonymous with their rich traditions and picturesque terrains, have emerged as the torchbearers of hockey prowess in the Northeast India, showcasing their mettle in the 14th Hockey India Senior Women’s National Championship.

The journey of Mizoram and Manipur in the ongoing marquee domestic championship has not only been remarkable but also symbolic of the burgeoning progress of hockey in the Northeast region. Both teams, defying odds and expectations, reached the quarterfinals, reflecting the unwavering dedication and untapped potential that exists in the Northeastern states. This spirited performance has fostered a new era of hockey excellence in the region.

Mizoram’s campaign was nothing short of spectacular. Backed by impressive performances from India striker Lalremsiami, Lalrinpuii and H Lalruatfeli, Mizoram registered emphatic victories over Himachal (10-0) and Rajasthan (20-2), to announce their arrival with authority. However, it was their showdown against Punjab that truly etched their name in the annals of Indian hockey history.

Against all predictions, they punched above their weight and clinched a sensational 4-2 triumph against Punjab, stunning the hockey fraternity and proving their prowess on the national stage. Although they narrowly missed the semi-final berth, succumbing to a close 1-2 defeat against last year’s Bronze medallists Jharkhand, their journey was a testament to resilience and skill.

“We were confident in our abilities. Despite being relatively new to the national stage, we believed in our team’s potential. Our players knew the significance of each match, especially in securing a spot in the Quarter-Finals. Similarly, we approached the game against Punjab with determination, knowing that a strong performance could lead us to victory, and eventually, our belief paid off as we emerged triumphant, surprising many with our tenacity and never-give-up spirit,” said Mizoram coach Lal Rothuami, as quoted by Hockey India website.

“The tournament served as a valuable learning experience for our team, providing us with insights into our strengths and areas for improvement. Next time we will aim to at least make it to the final of the tournament,” the coach added.

Meanwhile, Manipur, featuring budding India stars Bichu Devi Kharibam, Suman Devi Thoudam and ably backed by captain Lily Chanu Mayengbam, also left an indelible mark on the tournament with their stellar performances.

Dominating their group stage encounters with commanding wins over Dadra & Nagar Haveli And Daman & Diu (12-0), Karnataka (3-0), and Uttarakhand (11-2), they showcased their dominance and tactical acumen. Despite a closely-fought battle against Maharashtra in the quarters, ending in a 2-1 loss, their journey was nothing less than inspiring.

“Our journey in this tournament has been incredibly rewarding. Coming from Manipur, our initial expectations were modest, yet reaching the quarter-finals filled us with immense joy and pride. It’s a significant achievement for our team, considering the challenges we faced as we didn’t get much time to practice as a team ahead of the tournament,” said Manipur coach Ngangom Priya Chanu.

While our quarter-final match highlighted areas for improvement, it’s all part of the learning process. Looking ahead, we aim to push ourselves further in the next edition of the tournament, building on the invaluable lessons we’ve learned,” she added.

Crucially, the success of Manipur and Mizoram in the event underscores the pivotal role of grassroots development programs initiated by Hockey India. Through concerted efforts to nurture talent at the grassroots level, Hockey India has laid the foundation for a sustainable hockey culture in the Northeast.

These initiatives, coupled with specialised coaching courses for domestic-level coaches, have provided a pathway for aspiring players to hone their skills and compete at the highest levels.

Speaking on the same, Priya Chanu said, “The development of hockey culture in the Northeast has been remarkable, benefiting both players and parents alike. Thanks to initiatives like Hockey India’s grassroots programs, young talents are nurtured from an early age, paving the way for promising careers.

“Also, the coaching courses provided by Hockey India to us have been instrumental in shaping the landscape of hockey not only in Manipur but also across the Northeast. These courses have empowered us with the latest techniques, strategies, and methodologies essential for nurturing young talents and honing their skills to compete at top levels.

Also, they’ve facilitated networking, enabling us to share experiences and learn from coaches nationwide. This exchange has enhanced our coaching abilities and promoted camaraderie within the hockey community, leading to improved coaching quality and player development, ultimately advancing hockey in the Northeast.”

The emergence of Manipur and Mizoram as hockey powerhouses serves as an inspiration for budding talents across the region, breaking stereotypes, and paving the way for a brighter future in the sport. Moreover, it highlights the transformative potential of sports in fostering social cohesion, gender equality, and regional development.

–IANS

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