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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Chandigarh: ‘This is a huge step for Indian hockey,’ says midfielder Malik on their fourth-place finish

27-year-old Haryana mid-fielder Monika Malik, who has played more than 150 matches for the Indian team, returned to her home in Sector 44, Chandigarh, late Tuesday night.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
August 12, 2021 7:53:14 am
As the 27-year-old was welcomed by parents Takdeer Singh Malik and Kamla Devi, the mid-fielder sounded extremely proud of the fourth-place finish and termed it as a huge step for Indian hockey. (File)

While the Indian women’s hockey team missed out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, they achieved the historic feat of reaching the semi-finals in the women’s hockey event.

27-year-old Haryana mid-fielder Monika Malik, who has played more than 150 matches for the Indian team, returned to her home in Sector 44, Chandigarh, late Tuesday night. As the 27-year-old was welcomed by parents Takdeer Singh Malik and Kamla Devi, the mid-fielder sounded extremely proud of the fourth-place finish and termed it as a huge step for Indian hockey.

“Even though we missed out on a medal, it was a historic performance for the whole team. To finish among the best four teams in the world will be a confidence booster for any team and we are happy that we could achieve that. The way people are treating us after we missed out on a medal, is the biggest reward for us. It was overall a good performance as the men’s hockey team won the bronze medal and we reached the semi-finals and hopefully, it will help Indian hockey to reach further heights,” shared Malik.

Malik, whose father Takdeer Singh Malik is an ASI with Chandigarh Police, hails from Gamri village in Gohana in Sonepat district in Haryana. The youngster started playing hockey at Government School, Sector 44 before she joined the Chandigarh Girls Hockey Academy. While she would make her junior as well senior debut for India in 2011 and 2012 respectively, the mid-fielder was part of the bronze medal winning Indian hockey team in the junior world cup in 2013. Malik was also part of the 2014 Asian Games silver medal winning team apart from 2018 Asian Games silver medal winning team apart from being the woman of the match in the Asia Cup final in 2017.

At Tokyo, the Indian women’s team scored an upset with a 1-0 win over three-time Olympic champions and world number two Australia to become the first Indian women’s hockey team to reach the semi-finals in Olympics. In the quarter-final, India took a 1-0 lead and Malik was one of the four players behind the backline along with goal-keeper Savita Punia during Australia’s relentless attacks in the last quarter.

“While we lost three matches in the pool stage, we took positives from each of our performance and were eager to rectify. We knew that we have to do our best against Australia, one of the best teams in the world, and we went into the quarter-final match with positive thoughts. After we scored through Gurjit Kaur, Australians pressed hard and got seven penalty corners. I stand on the left side of Savita Punia during the penalty corners and luckily, I too was able to make some saves off their drag-flick hits. During the semi-final against Argentina as well the bronze medal match against Great Britain, we matched them and it was not our day that we could win,” shares Malik.

With coach Sjoerd Marijne working with the Indian women’s team since the last four years and leaving India earlier this week to coach in Netherlands, Malik believes that the Indian women’s hockey team will become better only and the team has the right balance.

“Rio Olympics was my first Olympics and each one of us, who played in Rio, took a lot of learning from there. Coach Sjoerd Marijne showed belief in each one of us in the last four years and he worked on the team playing like Netherlands tactically. He had his own style and it was always to play attackingly with a solid defense too. The current team is a young team and the players will add more experience in the coming years and it will only help Indian hockey,” said Malik.

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