BHUBANESWAR: Getting picked for the senior women's national camp is the first step in progress for young hockey player Jyothi Chhatri. The next and most important step for her is to use this opportunity to make it to the national squad for the Asian Games to be held later in the year.
Hockey India recently divulged a selection of 33 top-tier players to form the core probable group for the Senior Women's national camp in SAI, Bengaluru. The core group will be preparing for the upcoming tour of Australia -- a preparatory event leading up to the highly anticipated Asian Games in China.
Making the list for the first time is 20-year-old Jyothi Chhatri. Jyoti is a national hockey cadet from the Sports Hostel in Sundargarh. Based on her immense promise she was transferred to Odisha Naval Tata Hockey HPC in 2021.
Born in the Sundargarh district of Rourkela, Jyothi is the youngest of three siblings, unsurprisingly for a family in Sundargarh, the passion for hockey was abundant in her family, she took up the game in 2014, inspired by her brother who himself was a goalkeeper.
On the privilege of making the 33-member core probable group, she said, "It is an immense privilege to play, learn and grow amongst some of India's finest hockey players, all of us dream about playing at the highest level and representing India. This is an incredible opportunity."
"Hockey is very popular where I grew up, my brother used to play and encouraged me a lot to take up the game, the Panposh stadium was near my house and I was fortunate to get into the State Sports Hostel in Panposh. This is where I started taking the game seriously."
In 2021, Jyothi was selected to join the program at Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High-Performance Centre, in Bhubaneshwar. The transition, she concedes, is one of the bigger challenges she faced, "It was challenging to be far away from home, but my family supported me, along with the coaches and staff at Odisha Naval Tata HPC," she was quoted as saying on Friday.
She further added, "The transition was tough, but my time there was transformative as we had to elevate our commitment to training and the game itself. It was the first time I was exposed to various elements of performances. There were state-of-the-art facilities at our disposal. For example, we even had nutrition classes to ensure we knew how to stay fit year-round, we focused on injury prevention and recovery, furthermore, we had sports psychology sessions to prepare and strengthen ourselves mentally for the many ups and downs in the journey of an athlete."
While Jyothi believes she has a long journey ahead, she credits much of her growth to the Odisha Naval Tata HPC. "It has helped me immensely and I would not be the player I am without the support from them, they have allowed me to focus on my game without being burdened by financial commitments."
The senior women's national coaching camp commenced on April 9.
On her experience in the camp so far, Jyothi said, "As any young athlete, I was quite nervous before the camp, to play with Olympians and champions that I have idolised seemed quite intimidating. However, everybody has been very welcoming and supportive so I am really looking forward to improving my game over the next month."