Olympics medal is our next goal: Rajani Etimarpu
Not many of you might have heard about Enumulavaripalli village at Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. This village is a small hamlet that barely has...
Not many of you might have heard about Enumulavaripalli village at Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. This village is a small hamlet that barely has 30 houses.
To make those not aware, Rajani hails from this village who witnessed her own struggle during her childhood.
Coming from a humble family background, her father is a carpenter and her mother is a housewife.
Rajani never dreamt of getting into sports, until her sports teacher in her Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) suggested her to play sports as she had a good height.
There were times when her sports teacher asked her to do goal keeping in the hockey team, as none took initiative to be one.
Recalling about the turning point in her life, Rajani shares, "It was the farewell function during my eight grade in 2004, which led me to start playing hockey.
Prasanna Kumar Reddy, the then Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Hockey Association, spoke at length of the benefits of playing hockey.
During this, the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh center in Tirupati were selecting new trainees. After this my mother who was also present at the event, asked me if I was interested."
After this she developed an interest decided to go to the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh in Tirupati. She adds, "Luckily, along with two of my friends, I also got selected.
It was there that I learnt the most about hockey." Though goalkeeping was not her first choice, Rajani continued to take it up seriously.
Since her father was a carpenter and her mother, a housewife, it was difficult for them to afford the equipment when she had just started off. She shares that for her first tour, she played the tournament with a very basic kit.
"I had to take the old equipment and play the sports. Fortunately, some coaches and senior players in the team helped me buy the whole kit. Since the time I became a regular part of the team, sponsors came in and buying kits became easier.
Throughout my journey, my parents have been very supportive. We are four siblings; three sisters and one brother. My parents have made sure we all had all that we need," adds the player.
The Olympics qualifier in 2015 was a journey for the team to remember. It was then that the team represented the country after 36 years.
Rajani shares, "It was a moment when we all realized how much the sport meant to the nation, and how our performances on the field made our families proud.
It was a moment when I realized that everyone in my village, and even in my state, people started recognizing me which also led people earn a huge amount of respect for my parents.
We will be trying to learn from the experience that we had in Rio Olympics 2016 and will make sure that we perform well in the upcoming tournaments."
Rajani shares that the team is now aiming to win the medal in the upcoming Olympics 2021 in Tokyo.
She adds, "We were lucky enough that during the pandemic, we got an opportunity to have a friendly match with countries like Germany and Argentina and brush up our skills.
We as a team always discuss to create history, and make sure that we do something extraordinary and leave behind a legacy for the upcoming years. We want everyone to remember this team which can only happen if we give our best in the 2021 Olympics.
Doing our best inthis Olympics will also guarantee many more girls and women from across the nation to come forward, take initiative and participate in the sport"
During the pandemic, the Indian Women's Hockey Team raised funds of around Rs 20 Lakh to feed over families whose lives were affected due to the pandemic and series of nationwide lockdown.
The team was recently recognized with the Vogue Women of the Year 2020 award (sports category) for their humanitarian efforts.