Home Lifestyle India's Rani Rampal on journey from broken hockey sticks to Tokyo Olympics

India’s Rani Rampal on journey from broken hockey sticks to Tokyo Olympics


Rani Rampal, Indian women’s hockey team captain, became the youngest player in the national women’s hockey team when she participated at the 2010 World Cup at the tender age of 15. Now 26, Rani has reached the Olympics, and even participating in Tokyo this year. Talking about her long and arduous journey from not having a proper hockey stick and eating barely two meals a day to now representing India and participating in the Olympics, the young sportswoman, who originally hails from Shahabad Markanda in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, recently opened up about the trials and tribulations she faced during the course.

Rani Rampal shared her amazing and inspiring story with Humans of Bombay’s Instagram page recently and said how she started playing hockey simply to escape her difficult life and would play with a broken one to begin with. She shared with the page, “I wanted an escape from my life; from the electricity shortages to the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear, from barely having two meals to seeing our home getting flooded. There was only so much my parents could do — Papa was a cart puller and Maa was a maid.”

She went on how she’d spend hours watching people play hockey at a nearby academy, “There was a hockey academy nearby, so I’d spend hours watching the players–I really wanted to play. Papa would earn Rs.80 a day and couldn’t afford to buy me a stick. Everyday, I’d ask the coach to teach me. He’d reject me saying, ‘You aren’t strong enough to pull through a practice session.’

She revealed how she would play with broken sticks and usual clothes rather than proper hockey gear, “So, I began practicing with a broken hockey stick–I used to run around in a salwar kameez. But I was determined; maine bahut mushkil se convince kiya coach ko! “

Her family was also not completely comfortable with her wearing hockey gear, she shares, “But my family said, ‘Hum tumhe skirt pehen kar khelne nahi denge.’ I’d plead, ‘Please mujhe jaane do. If I fail, I’ll do whatever you want.’ My family gave in.”

Opening up about the difficult training she went through, “Training would start early; we didn’t have a clock, so mom would look at the sky to check if it was time to wake me. At the academy, it was mandatory for each player to bring 500 ml of milk. My family could only afford milk worth 200 ml; so I’d mix the milk with water and drink it.”

However, with the support of her coach, Rani started to make improvements, “My coach supported me; he’d buy me hockey kits and shoes. He even took care of my dietary needs. I wouldn’t miss a single day of practice. I remember I won 500 at a tournament and gave the money to Papa. He hadn’t ever held so much money in his hands. I promised my family, ‘One day, we’ll have our own home’; I did everything in my power to work towards that.”

Rani recalls the fateful day when she received a lifechanging call at 15 years of age, “After representing my state, I finally got a national call up at 15! Still, my relatives would only ask me when I was getting married. But Papa said, ‘Play until your heart’s content.’ With my family’s support, I eventually became captain of the Indian hockey team! Soon after, papa’s friend visited us. He brought along his granddaughter and told me, ‘She’s inspired by you and wants to become a hockey player!’ I was so happy!”

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Rani concluded by sharing how she has not only bought a home for her family but also about her dream for Tokyo Olympics, saying, “And then in 2017, I fulfilled the promise I made to my family and bought a home. We cried and held each other tightly! And I’m not done yet; this year, I’m determined to repay them and Coach with something they’ve always dreamed of–a gold medal from Tokyo.”

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