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CWG 2022: “The Current Teams Are Going To Do Something Special”, Says Suman Bala Ahead of India Women’s Hockey Schedule

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The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will see the Indian teams, women and men, begin their campaign on 29th and 31st July respectively, with both sides playing Ghana first up. For the Indian Women’s Team, this is a chance to add to the country’s only Gold medal in field hockey at the Commonwealth Games. India, Captained by Suraj Lata, had won Gold in the 2002 edition of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

On Episode 29 of Hockey Te Charcha, Suman Bala, who was part of the 2002 Gold winning squad in Manchester, looks back at their journey and more.

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Going back two decades, the former India international said that she and her teammates are very proud of their achievement. She also expressed her disappointment at the fact that she can’t watch the teams in action in UK, as she recently moved to Canada.

“For me and the team of 2002 Commonwealth Games, it was a golden moment and the more we think about it, the more we feel proud of ourselves. I hope the current teams are going to do something special at the Commonwealth Games,” Suman said from Vancouver.

Speaking about the journey through the campaign in 2002, Suman, who also played in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, said that the win against South Africa was the turning point and added that it took time a while before they realised the importance of their achievement.

“I was very nervous in Manchester, and at the opening ceremony when I saw the crowd, I was wondering who will be the lucky ones to take Gold. Little did I know, that I would be one of those lucky people.”

“When it was declared that India won the Gold, and it was flashed on the big screen after the final whistle – the feeling is difficult to put into words, even now. We didn’t know what we had done. The importance of that win is something that we realised when we came back to India. We didn’t know it was such a big medal and only after we saw the crowds at the airport when we returned, and were welcomed by the then Union Sports Minister came to meet us at the airport, that’s when we realised how big it was.”

Suman, who scored three goals for India in the 2002 Games, was all praise for the Savita-led Indian Women’s Team.

ALSO READ: CWG 2022: India Women Hockey Team’s Golden Chance to Win Medal

“We didn’t qualify for the Olympics and then the current team played the Olympics twice, and went to the semis as well. I don’t know how to appreciate the efforts. To watch the Indian Women’s Team play, people would wake up early in the morning in India. When I was in office, every one used to ask if I knew these girls, and I felt so proud that people were talking about hockey. I felt very proud to belong to that family and the game.”

The former ace also touched on the changes in women’s hockey since her playing days, saying that the current team has been empowered more by Hockey India. She noted that the current players have more support from the system than was the case earlier, when Coaches could’ve been more controlling than what was in the best interest of the team.

“When we see now the Indian team, they are enjoying every moment and I see how empowered they are in their daily routine, which is really nice to see. I would say that even if he had about half of what the team has today, we may have achieved more.”

India’s matches will be telecast on the Sony Network.

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