Dressed in smart yellow jackets, with the Hockey India crest embossed below the left shoulder, the India women's junior hockey team were surprisingly at ease as shutterbugs clicked away. Three days after their historic bronze medal at the Junior World Cup in Germany, the girls were felicitated by Hockey India, in Delhi on Wednesday. India beat England in a thrilling shootout to win third spot in the championship won by Holland. (Read Match report)
Over the past few days adulation has poured in from all parts of the country and the girls have taken to the spotlight like a duck to water - with many stories of hardship, turmoil and ultimate success been told. (Rani Rampal, a cart-puller's daughter)
The women's junior team were in for a surprise on Wednesday as the national men's hockey team - lead by skipper Sardar Singh, star striker VR Raghunath and High Performance manager Roelant Oltmans - walked in at the felicitation ceremony to cheer for the star-struck girl.
Hockey India secretary Narinder Batra chose to be the emcee of the show as each member of the bronze-medal winning 18-person squad was given a bouquet, their prize money and a memento. The song 'On our way' by Royal Concept led each girl on stage with captain and defender Sushila Chanu getting the loudest cheer. HI named Rani Rampal as Player of the Tournament. (Rani has killer instinct, says coach)
The coaches Neil Hawgood, Narendra Singh Saini and Helen Mary were also showered with accolades along with HI joint-secretary and manager Sudershan Pathak. "This is a momentous achievement in Indian hockey. Credit must be given to the Sports Authority of India for its continuous support," said Batra during the ceremony. (Pics)