Exclusive: This Upcoming Hockey Star Sets Eye On Place In World Cup Squad After Junior Asia Cup Triumph
After scoring the decisive goal in the finals for India, defender Neelam Panghal spoke to Zeenews English about her experience of playing at the Asia Cup and her goals for the future.
The Indian Junior Women's Hockey Team emerged as Champions of the Women's Junior Asia Cup 2023 held in Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture, Japan by defeating Korea with a score of 2-1 in a captivating Finale. While Annu (22’) and Neelam (41’) scored one goal each for India, it was the team's collective efforts that ultimately led to their triumphant victory in this crucial encounter.
"I am feeling very good, it is just impossible to put our feelings and how we feel into words. The whole country has shown us so much love and we are just overwhelmed with it. It is good to know that the people of our country are recognizing and proud of us," said Neelam on winning the Junior Asia Cup.
She gave credit to her team's coach Janneke Schopman who helped the girls to not take any pressure and brought the best out of them in terms of the quality of their game.
"Coach was very cool about it. She told us just play Hockey and we can surely win. It was not like Korea is not a good or easy team to beat, but the coach was very clear with her words. She told us to take no pressure because you have already secured the silver and the gold medal is up for grabs. The coach said You can be the first team from India to do it so why to take pressure,"
There were two goals scored by India to secure the gold and when asked about Neelam's delight for scoring one she said, "If you have seen the video of that game....(giggles), every time I scored in the tournament not just in the final I was jumping like in so much joy that teammates use to calm me down every time. I was delighted to get the goals for my team but it was never in my mind that I scored, for me it was always that my team scored and we have got another goal."
"Focus is on the World Cup now. We are preparing for the big one and we want bring a medal home from the main tournament as well. It is a step-by-step process for me and I don't want to take anything for granted at the moment. I want to work hard and nurture my skills while playing in the junior team."
Neelam told all this during an online interaction with a Zeenews English journalist. The 20-year-old is happy with the success her team got in the Junior Asia Cup but is keen on making her mark in the future by creating more historic moments like this one for her country.