Mix of youth and experience will help team's chances at Olympics, says defender Deep Grace Ekka
'It's great to have a great balance of youth and experienced players in our defence line. We are guiding the youngsters to get even better at their game and I am sure after a few months we will get even better as a defence unit,' Ekka said.
New Delhi: Defender Deep Grace Ekka on Thursday said the Indian women's hockey team's backline has a good balance of experience and youth which will come in handy at the Tokyo Olympics.
The team has enjoyed good results in top tournaments recently, including winning a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and qualifying for back-to-back Olympics, and Ekka said the experienced players are working with the young ones to further strengthen the team's defence.
"It's great to have a great balance of youth and experienced players in our defence line. We are guiding the youngsters to get even better at their game and I am sure after a few months we will get even better as a defence unit," Ekka was quoted as saying in a media release.
"Having a great defence line always helps any team and if we are rock solid, it will be a huge benefit for the Indian team, especially in big tournaments like the Olympics," the senior defender added.
It has been a difficult time for the entire world in the last few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports activities across the globe were brought to a complete halt due to the deadly virus, leading to concerns over the mental health of athletes.
Ekka said that it has been her responsibility to ensure that the youngsters in the team remained motivated during this tough period.
"As a senior player in the team, I had to make sure that the youngsters are not too impacted and remain positive during this period. It's easy for negativity to set in during this time, but our group has done well to take each day as it comes," she said.
"It's my duty to ensure that the youngsters remain motivated and they have done a great job. All of us focused on our fitness while we were away from the pitch and now, we are relishing our sports activities on the pitch," Ekka added.
The 26-year-old defender from Odisha said that the national side has been able to cope with this period by concentrating on fitness.
"We had enough facilities at our disposal for our fitness training during the lockdown and now, we are able to practice for the Olympics only because of the efforts put in by Hockey India and SAI," Ekka said.
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