~The dashing forward scored 15 goals during the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2024~

New Delhi, 29th March 2024: Over the last year, Indian forward Deepika Kumari has emerged as one of the team’s potent weapons in attack. The Indian Women’s Hockey Team penalty corner specialist was the highest goal scorer during the recently concluded 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship with 15 goals. Besides this, for her superlative performances, the 21-year-old has also been nominated for the prestigious Hockey India Asunta Lakra Award for Upcoming Player of the Year.

Expressing her excitement about being nominated for the award, Deepika said, “To be honest, I was not expecting to be nominated for this award. But I feel honoured that I have been. I am not thinking about if I will win the award or not, but just the excitement of being nominated is like an adrenaline rush. When I started, I was not performing well, but having played in the Junior Asia Cup, and several tours with the Senior Women’s team, I kept improving my performance daily.”

“My family is elated that I have been nominated for this award. For them, me being nominated means the world to them,” she added.

Hockey Haryana beat Hockey Maharashtra 1-1 (3-0 SO) in the final to win the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship at the Major Dhyanchand Hockey Stadium in Pimpri, Pune. Deepika (26’) scored the lone goal for Hockey Haryana in regulation time. Navneet Kaur, Usha and Sonika scored in the shootout and their Captain Savita made three successive saves to take them to glory.

Talking about her experience in the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship, the forward, who scored 15 goals, said, “It has been a long time since I played in a domestic tournament. Last time I played in Senior National, it was in 2020. Playing in this tournament was special as a lot of senior players also took part. The level of hockey that was played was fierce and intense. Playing against different players helps you understand where all you need to improve. There can never be an end to learning in a game.”

“I didn’t think much of scoring goals in every game but my main aim was to score goals through drag-flick. For me personally, I was more focused on improving and working on my drag-flicking skills and it has given me immense confidence. I wasn’t keeping track of how many goals I have scored but then finishing the tournament with 15 goals was like cherry on top of the cake,” the 20-year-old added.

Deepika also heaped praises on young talent Sanjana Horo, who finished the tournament with 11 goals and was the second-highest goal scorer. She said, “At the young age of 17, she scored 11 goals, it is simply outstanding. It’s really commendable. Given that all the senior players were there, but she emerged as the second-highest goal scorer, that just tells you the talent she has.”

Deepika made it to the national team as a forward in the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in March 2018. She has since featured in the FIH women's Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa in 2021 where India finished fourth. She was also part of the Junior Asia Cup title-winning team in June 2023. She made her debut for the Senior India Women's Hockey team during the FIH Pro League 2021-2022 held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

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