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‘Papa couldn’t afford to buy me a stick’: Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal shares inspiring journey

"There was only so much my parents could do -- Papa was a cart puller and Maa was a maid," Rani Rampal shared

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
July 28, 2021 2:10:28 pm
rani rampalRani Rampal shared how she developed an interest in hockey once she started spending hours watching the game at a nearby academy. (Source: ranirampal4/Instagram)

Indian women’s hockey team skipper Rani Rampal became the youngest player in the national team for 2010 World Cup at the age of 15.

The 26-year-old, who participated in the Olympics this year, shared her inspiring journey on the Humans of Bombay page recently.

Hailing from Shahabad Markanda in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, Rampal talked about how she started practising with a “broken hockey stick”. With her father working as a cart-puller and mother as a househelp, it became difficult to make ends meet. “I wanted an escape from my life; from the electricity shortages to the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear, from barely having two meals to seeing our home getting flooded. There was only so much my parents could do — Papa was a cart puller and Maa was a maid.”

Rampal developed an interest in hockey once she started spending hours watching the game at a nearby academy. “Every day, I’d ask the coach to teach me. He’d reject me saying, ‘You aren’t strong enough to pull through a practice session.’ So, I began practicing with a broken hockey stick-I used to run around in a salwar kameez. But I was determined,” she said, adding that she finally managed to convince the coach too.

Rampal’s family, however, were not in favour of watching their daughter play in a skirt. “I’d plead, ‘Please mujhe jaane do (please let me go). If I fail, I’ll do whatever you want.’ My family gave in.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rani Rampal (@ranirampal4)

Sharing her training schedule, Rampal said, “Training would start early; we didn’t have a clock, so mom would look at the sky to check if it was time to wake me.”

She added, “At the academy, it was mandatory for each player to bring 500 ml of milk. My family could only afford milk worth 200 ml; so I’d mix the milk with water and drink it.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rani Rampal (@ranirampal4)

The hockey player’s coach helped her with her dietary needs and also bought her hockey kits and shoes, she shared. “I wouldn’t miss a single day of practice. I remember I won Rs 500 at a tournament and gave the money to Papa. He hadn’t ever held so much money in his hands. I promised my family, ‘One day, we’ll have our own home’; I did everything in my power to work towards that.”

As a proud parent, Rampal’s father now encourages her to “play until your heart’s content”. “With my family’s support, I eventually became captain of the Indian hockey team!” she said.

In 2017, she fulfilled her dream of buying a home for her family. “We cried and held each other tightly! And I’m not done yet,” she wrote.

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