After the three-week national camp at Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Bangalore, the Indian Women's hockey team will today leave for the Europe Tour from the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru.
The 18-member Indian team will be captained by striker Rani while in-form goalkeeper Savita will shoulder the duties of vice-captain. The team will play four matches during their tour, the first and third of which will be against Ladies Den Bosch on September 8 and September 15 in Netherlands.
They will also play two matches against the Belgium Junior Men's team on September 11 and September 18 in Antwerp, Belgium.
"This is the first time we are playing a Junior Men's National team. While we play a lot of practice matches with the Junior Men's side during our National Camps, the team is excited to be playing against the Belgium's Junior National team who are the Junior World Cup finalists. It will be challenging no doubt, but I am confident we will learn a lot from this exposure," stated captain Rani Rampal, ahead of the team's departure.
The Europe Tour will be a good experience ahead of the all-important Asia Cup next month in Japan where the team will look to win the title.
"The idea of playing the Men's team was to toughen our team mentally and also the pace of the game will be much faster. The National Camp was good as we played two matches with the Men's team here in Bengaluru every week and the girls have put in a lot of hard work in this camp. Asia Cup is important and in my opinion, at the moment the Indian team is the No.1 side in Asia and there's no doubt that we will be gunning for the title. However, before that, we want to make sure our preparation is thorough and we have left no stones unturned. In this tour, we give some young girls the opportunity to show themselves in high level matches as it will create competition within the team. It will result in bringing up the level of the players, therefore I am looking forward to see them play," stated Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.