Hockey players Sushila Chanu, Vandana Katariya: Chak De! India part 2 should be made on us
India women’s hockey team is leaving no stone unturned for next year’s Asian Games and 2024 Paris Olympics. After winning the inaugural FIH Nations Cup recently, two of the team’s members — Sushila Chanu and Vandana Katariya — share why they deserve a sequel of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer, Chak De! India.
The Indian Women’s Hockey team recently returned from Spain, clutching the trophy of the inaugural FIH Nations Cup. Their video of enjoying at the arrival when at the airport has received many whistles and cheers, and the achievement makes them feel that their journey merits a cinematic documentation. And why not, for this victory has ensured that the team secures a berth at the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Pro League, which is a key event ahead of next year’s Asian Games and 2024 Paris Olympics. Two of the team’s senior team members, Sushila Chanu and Vandana Katariya, share how a lot has changed since Shah Rukh Khan-starrer ‘Chak De! India’ hit the screens in 2007.
Sushila Chanu: Dynamics within the team has changed
Most would remember the senior vs junior rivalry in the Bollywood film, and Chanu says that it has changed over time. “Pehle se better ho gaya hai. Ab senior-junior kuchh nahi raha. Everyone just wants to be motivated to win the game,” she says, adding, “Pehle seniors se darr lagta tha. Unka support nahi milta tha. Ab hum seniors hai toh bahut freedom dete hain [juniors ko].”
The 30-year-old, who has been playing since she was 11, further explains how the dynamics within the team have changed drastically. “There should be more films like Chak De! India. They should make another one, just to show the world how our team works now,” opines the midfielder.
Chanu emphasises how the team as a whole had just one goal, “Bas jeetna hai, yehi soch this humari. Our team had played three practise matches against Spain and all of those we lost,” recalls Chanu about the time before the nail-biting finale where India defeated Spain on its home turf. Chanu says while they did feel like the underdogs initially, the team strived hard to seal the win. “We watched the match videos and analysed them together. In the practise matches, we lost because of our own mistakes, but worked together and our goal trended on social media,” she exclaims.
Their tournament came at a time when the world was also invested in the high stakes matches of the FIFA World Cup. Ask if she thinks the timing divided the attention of audience away from their victory, and Chanu says their team was ardently watching the FIFA World Cup in sports spirit. “Our coach (Janneke Schopman) is from Holland, so we were also watching the matches between practise and games. Different sport hai par enjoy toh hum bhi karte hain!”
Vandana Katariya: Har match ko humne final ki tarah khela
The Indian team ranked #8 at the eight-nation tournament, but Padma Shri Vandana Katariya says what made them sail through was the confidence to play every match as the final. “Hum sab beginning se hi focussed thay. Sab mein understanding thi. Hum ek saath India ke liye khel rahe thay,” say Katariya.
Stressing on the importance of learning to handle pre-match jitters and performance pressure, the 30-year-old states that Indian team has mastered it now. “Unhe (Bollywood ko) humari team par Chak De! India ka sequel banana chahiye,” she opines, adding how their trajectory in the tournament played out just like a film. “Humne Spain ke against three practice matches haare par finally jeet gaye. All this is because everyone gave their 110%. Match mein sab apni responsibility puri karte hain aur baad mein masti karte hain,” adds the forward player.
Katariya recalls being shy and quiet around her seniors earlier whereas now she sees a unified team spirit among the players. “Ab darte nahi hain seniors se. Hum sab saath mein rehte hain, hanste-khelte hain aur mehnat karte hain,” she shares, adding how despite receiving the Padma Shri, the team does not treat her differently: “The honour of Padma Shri is not just mine, it’s all of ours.”
Author tweets @KritiKambiri