The Hockey Madhya Pradesh team beat Hockey Maharashtra 5-1 in the Final.
Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), 27th February: Hockey Madhya Pradesh redeemed themselves from a Quarterfinal loss in the previous edition to win the prestigious 13th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2023 in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. They won the Title after defeating Hockey Maharashtra 5-1 in the final on Sunday.
Hockey Madhya Pradesh lived up to their billing in the tournament, conceding only three goals and putting on an improvised show each time they took the field. “Unfortunately, we lost in the Quarter Finals last year in Bhopal and we knew that we needed to buck up if we wanted to stand a chance to lift the trophy, so we focused on the skills of a few players to help us in set pieces, namely Diksha Tiwari’s penalty corner hit and we also shored up our defence,” said the team’s Head Coach Paramjit Singh.
“We also built great chemistry within the team after playing practice matches against the junior team which is where we changed the defence pattern. We played with three deep defenders instead of two, which worked perfectly for us throughout the Championships,” Paramjit added.
New stars in the making
Defender Diksha Tiwari who was the cynosure of the team’s penalty corner set pieces said that she enjoyed the tournament, which saw new additions for the first time such as the ‘Player of the Match award being given away for each match.
She was impressed with the National Championships’ excellent organisation. Diksha scored seven goals in the tournament. Six of them came from penalty corners. She also scored two goals in the final.
“Our Coach Paramjit sir took time to work on my technique and we reaped the reward of it in the game. The hit is a good alternative, more comfortable than drag flicking for me at least. After this performance, I’m hoping to make it to National Camp. This victory is all due to great team chemistry, confidence, and communication being on point from the first game,” an ecstatic Diksha said.
Live streaming keep friends and family glued to their screen
The 13th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2023 in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, was streamed live on Fancode and attracted a decent audience. With more people in Madhya Pradesh keeping track of their home team’s performance, messages of congratulations haven’t stopped pouring in. “Messages and wishes still haven’t stopped coming in, because of the live streaming a lot of people saw my performance for the first time, they had heard that I played hockey but the live streaming platform allowed them to actually watch my team play at a high level, against tough opponents, on an astroturf and it is a really special feeling,” Diksha added.
Pratibha Arya, who won the Best Defender of the Tournament Award, also stood out for her exceptional ball feeding across the lines throughout the tournament. Talking about the campaign, she said, “It was a great journey, the Final is the most memorable match of all the National Championships so far. Even though we have already won the Final, I am still very excited because this was the first time my parents and relatives all watched me play. The entire atmosphere of the tournament was different, from match entry to the national anthem to the awards for Player of the Match and Best Defender of the Tournament.”
“These things may appear insignificant from the outside, but it is stuff like this that motivates me to do better because I know I will get a lot of support from my team and organisers; basically, the stage is set for us; we have the best of everything available to us; we just need to perform to our best and take advantage of it,” Pratibha added.
Pratibha, 24, went on to say that the team has always believed that if they take each game one at a time, they will do well. “We had a great understanding in the team, we even played two games where we had to come from behind to win the game, so it shows that the team is filled with great characters,” she said, before adding, “I feel the Semi-Final clash against Hockey Jharkhand was one of the best performances of the team, it really helped build belief in the team that we can win, we are only a step away from glory.”