~ This is their first semifinal appearance in two years; play defending champs Hockey Punjab in the semifinal ~
~Hockey Haryana to take on Hockey Jharkhand in second semifinal~
Bhopal, 12 May 2017: With a strong presence of junior India campers in the team, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy eves inch closer to the title at the Hockey India 7th Junior National Hockey Championship 2017, Women (A Division) being held in their home turf in Bhopal. Having topped their Pool and overcoming stiff challenge by Sports Authority of India in the quarterfinal, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy have made it to their first semifinal appearance in two years.
Led by captain Karishma Singh, the team features Suman Devi Thoudam, Neelu Dadiya and keeper Divya Thepe who have played for the Junior Indian women’s team. “We are very excited to enter the Semifinals and are looking forward to a good game of hockey against Hockey Punjab on Saturday. We are confident of entering the final and we will play with that aim tomorrow,” stated team captain Karishma Singh.
Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy based in Gwalior has given a reason for girls from different backgrounds to vie for a career in hockey. “We get very good support from the Madhya Pradesh sports minister Yashodhara Raje Sindhia who has helped in improving the training facilities here. Also the fact that the Indian women’s team has been doing well and after they qualified for the Rio Olympics, more and more girls are interested in pursuing hockey as a career,” expressed Rajni Sengar, Team Manager at Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy.
Against Hockey Punjab, the hosts will have their task cut out. Last year’s winners Hockey Punjab beat Hockey Gangpur- Odisha 5-3 to make the semifinals this year. They have been consistent in their performance through the tournament and most of their players have showcased excellent form. “It will be a tough fight and we will need to put that extra effort if we have to beat them. But the fact that we are playing in home ground gives us more confidence,” said Singh about the semifinal.
In the second semifinal, Hockey Haryana will take on Hockey Jharkhand. In the previous edition, Hockey Jharkhand were edged out in the semifinal by Hockey Punjab who beat them 7-1. Hockey Haryana on the other hand had beaten Hockey Odisha in the semifinal to play the title round with Hockey Punjab last year. Whether they will be able to repeat last year’s heroics, only time will tell.