Rani’s father is a cart-puller. Her brothers make a living as carpenters. Making ends meet is a struggle for the
It is from abject poverty that Rani, 15, has risen to emerge as the deadliest striker in the national women’s team. She was adjudged Young Player of the Tournament at the recently concluded Champions Challenge-II in Kazan, Russia, which India won.
Now Rani wants to follow the footsteps of Indian captain Surinder Kaur, chosen Player of the Tournament in Kazan. She wants to change the fortunes of her family like Kaur did some years ago.
“When I took to hockey four years ago, my dream was to play with Surinder didi. I never thought I would be fulfilling my dream so soon. Didi is not only a class player, she has also turned the fortunes of her family,” says Rani, who recently scored 74 per cent in the Class X Board exams and is aspiring to be the family’s first graduate.
When Surinder first played for India in 1998, her father was a contract labourer and the family’s monthly income was Rs. 4,000.
Today, Surinder’s father and brother have 13 acres of farmland on lease for which they pay Rs. 3 lakh annually.
They also have a dairy, a tractor and all kinds of modern amenities. She also has a house in a posh locality.
“What I am today is because of my coach Baldev (Singh) Sir. I attribute my name, fame and money to him,” says the 27-year-old Surinder.
“The day I get the Arjuna Award, I will buy a car,” she says.
Surinder is one of the many role models in Shahbad -the town that has produced 20-odd women hockey internationals. Like Surinder, Rani was fast-tracked to the senior India team side before playing for the junior side.
She was thrown out of the junior camp in 2007 on the grounds that she was not fit.
But she took it as a challenge and within a year, she was part of the team for the Olympic qualifiers in Kazan in 2008 where she was India’s highest scorer with five goals.
The India forward has so far earned 26 national caps and scored 20 goals.