Hockey: India debut was 'dream moment', says young midfielder Manisha

Sports |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) At 25, Manisha Chauhan from Uttarakhand, fulfilled her dream of making her international debut for the Senior Women’s Hockey Team. The dynamic midfielder made her first appearance against Argentina during the Europe leg of the FIH Pro League 2023/24.

Expressing her delight at earning her first cap for India, Manisha said, "It is every player’s dream to represent their country on a global stage. I have always dreamt of this moment ever since I started playing hockey. It was a special moment for me as I made my way onto the pitch wearing the Indian jersey. The coaching and support staff have put their trust in me, and it was up to me to prove them right."

"Harendra Sir told me to trust my instincts and play my natural game, which I have been playing for the past few years. He also told me the areas I need to work on and how I can improve my game overall. Every member of the team has supported, helped, and motivated me to perform better. I feel blessed to be part of this fantastic team, where the players make you feel at home," she added.

Manisha’s interest in hockey began when she was in class 5th. Recalling her journey, she said, "I was always interested in playing sports. I used to play football and handball a lot. I also have state-level medals in the long jump and shot put. I remember the school coach coming to the ground and asking us if anyone wanted to play hockey. I showed interest in taking up the sport and then he asked me to come for training in the evening. Since then, there was no looking back for me."

She performed remarkably well in the competitions at the school level organised by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and also won the ‘Best Player’ title.

In 2016, Manisha was the Captain of the Uttarakhand team in the Junior Women National Championship. With some phenomenal performances in the tournament, she had her breakthrough when she was called for the Indian junior women’s camp.

Reminiscing about the same, the 25-year-old said, "I was over the moon when I got the news of me being selected for the Indian Junior Women’s Team camp. It was an amazing moment for me and my family. My coach, Mr Balwinder Singh, who has always inspired me and has been my constant support from my early days, was overjoyed with the news."

"Once I reached Bengaluru, I was very nervous seeing other players who had joined the camp coming from different states. This was something I only dreamt of. Most of the players were relatively more experienced than me. I was coming on the back of playing in Junior Nationals, held in Ranchi. But I immediately knew that I need to work a lot on my game and hone my skills if I want to make a name for myself," she added.

But despite her talent and dedication, she couldn’t secure her spot for domestic and international tours and was eventually out of the camp in 2018. Undeterred, she continued to hone her skills in several domestic tournaments. Throughout these years, her dream of representing the senior women’s hockey team never wavered.

Two years down the line in 2018, she gave trials for the National Center of Excellence, Delhi, and was selected. Manisha put all her time and effort into training rigorously and improving her game. In 2023, during the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship, Manisha represented Manipur Hockey, her performance was nothing short of stellar.

She scored three goals and was also awarded Player of the Match in her first game, showcasing her skill and determination. This outstanding performance led to her selection for the senior women's camp.

Notably, Manisha has also participated in All-India Inter University and First Khelo India in 2020. She has also won the best midfielder award in the 1st Hockey India Senior Women Inter-Department National Championship in 2021.

Now, with her eyes set on the 2026 Women’s FIH Hockey World Cup, Manisha is not just aiming to be a part of the team but to lift the coveted trophy and bring glory to India.

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