On Wednesday, as the Indian women’s hockey team registered a 2-1 win over Japan to claim the bronze medal in the Asian Games in Incheon, a tense family was watching the match at their residence in Sector 44 in Chandigarh.
It became a day to remember for Chandigarh Police Head Constable Takdeer Singh Malik and his family as his daughter Monika played her part in the Indian team’s medal-winning feat, last achieved in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
“It’s a proud moment for us. When Monika missed the Commonwealth Games, we were a bit disappointed. But today’s medal has made us happy. She was eager to give her best in the Asian Games and the medal will boost her confidence,” said Malik, who belongs to Gumri village in Sonepat district, Haryana.
Monika (21), who is a midfielder, started playing hockey in 2005 at Government School, Sector 44. She would regularly cycle to Sector 18 hockey academy for training. “It’s a reward for all the hard work she has done. Her younger brother Ajay is a cricket player and he also watched the full match,” said Malik.
Four years after she started playing hockey, Monika starred in Chandigarh’s title win in the school nationals held in Chhattisgarh in 2009. The half-back next played a vital role in Chandigarh’s bronze medal finish in the junior nationals in Sonepat in 2010, and also in the 2012 junior nationals where Chandigarh team claimed the silver medal.
The following year saw Monika making her debut for the Indian junior team and featured in the team’s historic bronze medal winning feat in Junior World Cup in Germany. Earlier this year in March, Monika, who studies at Kurukshetra University, played for Haryana in the senior nationals, where they claimed the silver medal.
“Even when she studied in Sector 44, she would come to the SAI Training Centre in Sector 18 to train. Later, she joined the Chandigarh Hockey Academy. Her biggest strength has been her stick work and her eagerness to learn. Last year’s Junior World Cup was only her third international tournament and she learnt a lot. Playing against Asian teams in Asian Games will also make her a complete hockey player,” said Manjeet Kaur, SAI coach.
Monika’s longtime teammate in Chandigarh Hockey Academy and Indian hockey team Ritusha Arya played in the Commonwealth Games but missed the Asian Games due to an ankle injury. She was also all praise for Monika.