Bhubaneswar: Having failed to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games to be held later this year, the Indian women’s hockey team will try to salvage some pride during the first cluster of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 starting at the Kalinga Stadium here on February 3.
The Indian team touched down at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Sunday to kick off their campaign in this cluster at the Kalinga Stadium and Rourkela. Long-standing custodian Savita will continue to lead the squad as captain while forward Vandana Katariya, who returns to the squad after recuperating from an injury, will serve as her deputy.
The FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 (Women) is scheduled to take place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar from February 3 to 9, before moving to the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, where the league will be held from February 12 to 18.
Besides India, four more national teams China, the United States of America, the Netherlands, and Australia -– will participate in this leg of the FIH Pro League 2023/24, facing each other once in Bhubaneswar and once in Rourkela.
India will take on reigning Asian Games champions China in their first game on February 3, followed by a clash with the Netherlands on February 4. They will face off against Australia on Feb 7 before playing their last game in Bhubaneswar against the United States on Feb 9.
The women’s team is competing in the FIH Hockey Pro League for the second time. Indian women’s team’s first appearance in the FIH Hockey Pro League was during the 2021/22 season when it finished third. Last year, India defeated Spain 1-0 in the final of the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup Spain 2022 to secure their spot in the FIH Pro League 2023/24.
Speaking on the importance of the FIH Hockey Pro League, chief coach Janneke Schopman said, “As the team continues to improve it is imperative that we give our best in the FIH Pro League and use this opportunity to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world.
“The FIH Pro League will be a great platform for some of the youngsters in the squad to acquaint themselves with the demands of international hockey and further hone their skills. This season we will also have the chance to secure qualification for the FIH Hockey World Cup 2026, so the team is prepared to give it their all from the first match,” she said.