Hockey Perspectives

Railway Women’s Hockey Team On a High After Winning Senior Inter-Departmental Nationals

Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) men’s hockey team have carved out an invincible presence in the domestic circuit with three title wins and two runner-up finishes. The dominance of the Railway men’s team appears to have rubbed off on the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) women’s hockey team as well. The Railway women’s hockey team are riding high after they retained the 2nd Hockey India Senior Women Inter-Department National Championship that recently concluded at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.

Coached by legendary former India striker Pritam Rani Siwach, defending champions RSPB eves lived up to the billing as red-hot favourites, edging out third-placed team of the inaugural edition, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) 3-2 in the summit clash. The Railway women’s hockey team proved far superior to their opponents, winning all their five league games with consumate ease. The RSPB eves scored a whopping 41 goals with the likes of former international Anupa Barla, and Devika Sen spearheading the goal-scoring duties with 9 goals each.

Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) women’s hockey team hardly broke any sweat in their 6-1 win over last year’s runners-up Sports Authority of India in their tournament opener. The Railway outfit annihilated the likes of UCO Bank Women’s Hockey Academy and All India Police Sports Control Board by 15-0 and 8-0 margins respectively. They also posted a 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Steel Plant Sports Board and Sashastra Seema Bal respectively.

The only match the Railway girls was offered stiff resistance was by Sashastra Seema Bal in the final. “We beat SSB convinvingly in the pool tie (4-0) but in the final they came hard at us. We are a tad depleted owing to the absence of two key players – Shilpi Dabas and Kiran Dahiya due to injury. The hot weather did not make it easy for us – overall it was an absorbing final tie,” says RSPB women’s hockey team coach Pritam Rani Siwach in a chat with Hockey Passion.

The Railway coach agrees that competition left a lot to be desired. “Barring two-three teams the rest were feeble sides. Unlike the inaugural edition that featured 8 teams, this edition featured 6 teams.”

The 47-year-old former stalwart, who represented India in three Asian Games, two Commonwealth Games and one World Cup, hails the concept of Inter-Departmental Senior Nationals. “The Inter-Departmental Senior Nationals is the best thing to have happened, especially for women’s hockey. There is always talk that there is not enough jobs for women hockey players but I’m sure such Inter-Departmental Senior Nationals would open up jobs for our women players. It’s only when such nationals are held regularly, departments would come up with job opportunities,” she explained.

Pritam, who captained India to a silver win at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, feels women’s hockey are going to see exciting times ahead. “For long Railways used to be only employers of women hockey players but this trend is changing for the better. Imagine 34 players at the senior camp was from the Railways – the might of Railways is such that we can field two teams in such nationals. Indian Oil recently hired 8 women players and even Income Tax handed jobs to 10 girls in recent times. Even SSB team intends to hire women players. All these can be the cataylst for a women club hockey league,” Pritam says bubbling with excitement.