It was a memorable debut in Cape Town: Vaishnavi Phalke

The youngster from Satara, Maharashtra made her international debut for the senior Indian women’s hockey team during their Tour of South Africa

NEW DELHI | Updated: 09 February, 2023 2:58 am IST
Vaishnavi Phalke made her senior debut during the tour of South Africa

After a series of strong performances with the junior women’s team, Vaishnavi Phalke is ready for the big stage with the senior Indian women’s hockey team.

Phalke made her international debut during the Indian Team’s recent tour of South Africa, where she impressed with three goals.

The team won three matches and drew one against their home team, followed by three matches against World No. 1 Netherlands, in which she scored in the first match.

Talking about her memorable debut, Vaishnavi told Hockey India, “I was quite surprised when chief coach Janneke Schopman announced my name in the squad for South Africa. I didn’t expect to get a call-up for the senior side so early. It also made me quite nervous that I would be playing against a top team like the Netherlands.”

The youngster said that talking to the seniors as well as coach Schopman, a Dutch hockey player herself, helped calm her nerves.

“I spoke to the senior players and also Janneke before the match and they calmed my nerves. They asked me to play simple hockey and not play with any pressure. That gave me some confidence. Also, scoring goals against quality teams automatically helps you gain confidence,” stated the youngster, who marched into the senior National Camp in September last year after playing for the junior side for about three years.

Born into a humble farmer’s family in Maharashtra’s Satara, Phalke picked hockey as her No.1 choice when she joined a Government Sports Academy in Pune.

“We were given one year to try different sports and eventually we had to pick one as our choice to pursue. Although my coaches there wanted me to take up athletics as a walker, I enjoyed hockey and had picked up the skills over a span of nine months in the academy, so I ended up choosing hockey,” she recalled.

In 2019, Phalke received her first call-up for Hockey India’s National Program after she impressed at the 9th Hockey India Junior Women’s National Championship 2019 (A Div) in Kollam, Kerala.

Once she made her entry into the Junior National Camp, there was no looking back for this youngster, as she represented India at the FIH Junior Hockey Women’s World Cup in South Africa last year. She was also part of the team that played the Chile Tour as well as the 5 Nations Tour in Ireland.

“Now my focus is on taking my performance to the next level, learning from the senior players in the team, and making the most of the opportunity in the National Camp,” she added.

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