India captain Savita eyeing hat-trick of Goalkeeper-of-the-Year titles

India captain Savita eyeing hat-trick of Goalkeeper-of-the-Year titles

Bengaluru, Nov 20 (PTI) India captain Savita Punia remained in contention for securing a hat-trick of Goalkeeper-of-the-Year Award after she was nominated for the recognition for a third time in a row at this year's FIH Hockey Star Awards.

'I never thought I would win this award for two straight years, and get nominated yet again,' said Savita who had won the prestigious titles in 2021 and 2022.

'I feel really great, and it's a proud moment for me, my family and my teammates as well.' Savita has led the country to various important wins in recent years, including the title triumph at the inaugural FIH Hockey Women's Nations Cup 2022 in Spain that helped India earn promotion to the FIH Pro League 2023-24.

'When I started playing, I never thought I would come this far, and it is all due to the support of my family and my teammates.

'In team sport, no achievement is based on individual efforts but is an outcome of teamwork. It's great to be recognised for your hard work, and it motivates the entire team,' she added.

She also led the team to the bronze medal at this year's Hangzhou Asian Games followed by the title win at the Women's Asian Champions Trophy in Ranchi.

Under her captaincy, India also achieved their highest-ever world ranking, reaching No. 6.

'It has been an amazing season for us. I'm just proud of how we overcame the obstacles that were thrown our way. We've gotten better with each game. Even the younger players have shown great tenacity; they have worked hard and given their all,' Savita said.

With the focus firmly on the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in Ranchi from January 13-19, the Indian women's team will be aiming for a top-three finish to secure their Paris Olympics ticket.

India are placed in Pool B alongside New Zealand, the United States, and Italy. Pool A consists of Germany, Japan, Chile, and the Czech Republic.

The top two teams from each group will then progress to the semi-finals, and the top three finishing teams will secure their qualification for the Paris Olympics. PTI SSC SSC TAP

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