When Hockey India planned the women’s tour to Spain, they included two matches against male teams from Holland not for the purpose of winning those matches. There was no question of Indian women’s hockey team matching the hockey skills of their male counterparts from a premier hockey playing nation. In men and women’s hockey supremacy in the world, Holland along with Australia and Germany are rated at the very top. Even club level hockey has a high standard. Therefore, scheduling two matches against men’s teams from Holland was seen more as in exercise in exposing the women to a different variety of the game and making them stronger against an unusual run of play. To a large extent the hockey mangers and the coach have succeeded in their intents. The women needed preparations for the upcoming FIH World League Round 2, which would be staged in New Delhi during March 07-15, 2015 and the Valencia trip was expected to help them hone their skills and acquire confidence ahead of the tournament. Other than India, the FIH event will have seven other teams from Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Singapore.
Indian women’s second match against a men’s team from the Dutch Hockey Club HDM JA 1 was a tougher affair in comparison to that played against GCHC because some HDM players had been drawn from the Dutch U19 National team. The youngsters were very athletic, gifted with superb stick work and adept in power game. So it wasn’t easy for India’s women to match them even closely. These players fortified the strength of the Club team throughout the game. Going into the match, India’s women were determined to put up their best show without bothering about the inherent strength of the Club team. The Dutch players took the match seriously and didn’t allow Indian players any chance of easy scoring. Right from the start, the Dutchmen showed terrific reflexes, great stick work and lightning speed. Regardless, the Indians found a few chances, where they could attack the Dutch goal. Poonam Rani looked in great form as she stole a chance in the 32nd minute. Moving deftly past the strong Dutch defense, Poonam scored a goal from a penalty corner deflection. But on most occasions, it was the Dutch team, which dominated. Time and time again, they got hold of the ball and did not surrender the ball possession until they scored a goal. A total of 7 field goals were scored by HDM during the match and that shows the command they had over the Indians. The game was expected to be played at good pace but for the Indian woman, it became difficult to match the speed of the superbly athletic men of HDM JA 1. After Poonam scored her first goal, flashes of brilliance kept coming from Indian women. In another impressive run, Anupa Barla and Poonam Barla moved in the middle with a fine ball exchange that culminated in Poonam Rani scoring another lovely field goal in the 52nd minute. Poonam’s goal motivated others to launch more attack but that was difficult in the face of solid Dutch resistance. Other than their 7 field goals, the Dutch also converted three penalty corners to take their match tally of goals to 10. Counting Poonam’s two goals, the match ended 10-2 in favor of the Dutch Club.
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