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New Delhi:

The Indian junior women’s hockey team ended the year 2019 on a high by winning the 3-Nations Tournament in Australia, paving the way for more success in the upcoming year where they will be playing some crucial tournaments and will be looking to secure their place in the next edition of the World Cup.

The team participated in various tournaments during the year which included Test matches against Ireland and Canada, Cantor Fitzgerald U21 International 4-Nations Tournament in May-June, Series with Belarus in June and the 3-Nations Tournament with New Zealand and Australia in December.

“It was a very positive year for us. We played against some of the best teams from around the world and performed exceedingly well. We have focused on raising the level of our performances with every single match, and with some tough challenges against teams like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada through the year, it was pleasing to see the girls improve with every single tournament and national camp,” coach Baljeet Singh Saini was quoted as saying by the Hockey India website.

Having played a total of 16 matches across various tournaments, the Indian team registered an impressive 10 victories, drew two matches and lost four, but their most important win came in the Cantor Fitzgerald U21 International 4-Nations Tournament which also saw hosts Ireland, Canada and Scotland take part.

It was India who took the title as they registered a 1-0 win in the final match against the hosts with Gagandeep Kaur scoring India’s only goal.

“When you play other strong teams from around the world, it helps in giving a lot of exposure to our players, and also makes them aware of what is actually required to be performing consistently at the highest level,” Saini.

“I am very happy to see that our team has developed so much over the years, and can now beat any team in the world, regardless of the physicality and built. Our players at the junior level are getting stronger and fitter, and I am really pleased to see that because these are the players who will progress to play for the senior team in the future.”

The year also saw a few members of the junior team progress to the senior team set-up, which has pleased coach, Saini.

“When you are in charge of any junior team, your role is to help the youngsters develop into well-honed players who can match the standards of the senior team, and also provide something unique to the team. As the coach, it was something that really pleased me to see two of our players progress to the senior team. Salima Tete and Sharmila Devi are both very talented, and have set an example for the other players in our team,” said the coach.

Looking forward to the upcoming year where the team will be taking part in the Junior Women’s Asia Cup, the coach said that the tournament is crucial as it provides direct qualification to the FIH Hockey Junior Women’s World Cup.

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