Canberra:It is the sporting season in Canberra. But it isn't just the Indian men's cricket team that is there for a practice match. The Indian women's hockey team has also travelled to Australia, as part of an exposure trip ahead of the all-important Olympic qualifiers this April.
The girls will play a series of 9 matches against club sides in Canberra. And in true Chak De Style, one of the teams they play, will consist of men!
Mamata Kharab and her team of 21 hockey players arrived in Canberra on January 8.
"Our hockey has improved. We shall be helped by this exposure because even at the club level the girls' play Euro style hockey. We have USA in our group who also plays similar style of hockey. We can learn a lot," said Mamta Kharab, Captain, Women's Hockey Team.
"We can better our tactical play here. In our domestic circuit change over and tactical play are not given any importance. The coaches believe in the traditional style of play," said G S Bhangu, Coach, Women's Hockey Team.
India play their Olympic qualifiers in Kazan, Russia in April. They'll be up against the likes of Belgium, Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, Antilles, Russia and USA. In a Chak De move in order to prepare the Indians have even agreed to a match against the ACT men's team.
"That is to provide them some tough physical opposition since the girls from the US are very big on physical play that is what it is about and they play regional sides to get speed and a different sort of match play," said Terry Evans, CEO, Hockey ACT Inc.
"We are looking forward to play in the Olympic games. This is the best chance
Indian women's hockey has got," said Kharab.
It has been 28 years since the Indian women's hockey team last qualified for the Olympics. Now with specialised and intensive biomechanical, tactical and physical training here in Canberra, can this team repeat what it last did in 1980?
The girls are certainly confident of it, and their fans will only have to wait till April to find out.