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Rani Rampal was awarded the Padma Shri Award this Republic Day. Here is her story of how a girl from a small town in Haryana dared to dream and dream big!
Rani Rampal, the captain and striker of the Indian Women’s Hockey was awarded the Padma Shri Award on 26th January, 2020. Calling hockey her life, she says it transformed her and made her life more fairytale like. And why not! Hockey catapulted her from a ‘nobody’ to a shining star in the world of the game.
At 25, Rani is a vivacious, ambitious and always has a smile on her face. Hers is a story of great success, owed, not to luck, but to hard-work, determination and faith in her own self.
She was born in a humble family and recalls how her family was often unsure of their next meal. The family of five, including two younger brothers, lived in a small mud house in Shahabad, Haryana. Her father, a cart-puller, was the sole breadwinner of the family and for him, earning even Rs. 100 a day was doubtful.
However, none of these challenges dispelled or dampened her passion for the sport. And her family was her constant support system. Rani dreamt of moving her family from their little mud house to a bigger, stronger one. She yearned to give them a better, more comfortable life. And with her career in hockey soaring heights, she is able to do so now! The family, now, lives in a decent house and are happy where they are.
Haryana is a male- dominated state, where women still aren’t taken seriously. People there don’t believe in women. Women’s success is taken as something that happens by chance and without hard work and efforts. However, Rani feels that women’s success needs to be celebrated twice as much since they look after their families while pursuing their passions.
The striker started playing hockey at the young age of six and started field hockey lessons at the Shahabad Hockey Academy. She trained under Baldev Singh, a recipient of the Dronacharya Award. Rani reminisces about her super strict coach who would be on the field by 4:45 a.m. for their 5 a.m. training. Tardiness for not tolerated and anyone who was even a little late was severely punished.
More than Rani, it was her mother who dreaded her being late and admonished. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an alarm clock but the little girl came up with a novel plan to own one.
It so happened that in her school, a writing competition was announced and the prize was an alarm clock! The child was determined to win the prize and she set to practice writing. Eventually, her hard work paid off and she won the alarm clock. She confesses that this prize was no less than a golden medal!
Initially, she joined Junior Nationals in Gwalior and then at Chandigarh School Nationals and later graduated to the National squad. Rani made her senior entrance when she was just 14 years. She was the youngest player to participate in 2010 World Cup. When she started playing professionally, GoSports foundation, a sport’s NGO helped her with monetary and other assistance.
In 2009, she played in the Champion’s challenge Tournament held in Kazan, Russia and steered India to win the match with four goals in the final. She was named ‘The Top Goal Scorer’ and ‘The Young Player of the Tournament.’
Then, in 2010, she made it to India’s national team at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian games. In recognition of her excellent performance, Rani Rampal was nominated in FIH Women’s All-Star Team. And was listed for the ‘Young Woman Player of The Year’ award.
She had helped Indian Hockey Team qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after 36 years. In recognition of her stellar role she has been awarded with several prestigious awards, including the Arjuna Award in 2016.
In the 2018 Asian Games, she captained the Indian Women’s team, where her team won a silver medal. And was also India’s Flag bearer for the closing ceremony.
The game, for this young hockey player is not over yet and there are more medals to be won. Here’s hoping she attains great success and brings more laurels to our nation!
Picture credits: YouTube
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