Indian Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s Spokeperson Diskit On How They Struggle In Oblivion
- IWB Post
- January 9, 2019
Ahead of National Sports Day, IWB documents narratives of the gritty Indian sportswomen to bring to them the much-deserved attention and accolades.
We took a sneak peek into what goes down before a game and after a tough loss or a jubilant win. We also found out what happens in ‘The Locker Room,’ the safe room where the gloves come off and they huddle together for “The Talk” which prepares them for the battle ahead.
The locker room is the bosom where the hopes, fears, and aspirations of these women are nurtured. IWB thus ventured into these sacred spaces and became a part of their intimate dialogues.
Interacting with these team, we got to learn a lot about the state of the women’s sports in India. We also got acquainted with some interesting and fun facts about these teams. For instance, did you know that the Beyonce’s Who runs the world is the song that pumps up the Indian Women’s Ice Hockey Team? But wait, did you even know that there is a Women’s Ice Hockey team in India? Honestly, a month ago neither did I. And I am every bit ashamed of it.
A conversation with Diskit Chhonzom Angmo, spokesperson of the Indian Women’s Ice Hockey team, made me realise how we as a country have been failing these women who invest all their life force to represent us on International Platforms and bring us glory.
Here are the excerpts from the interaction:
If we look at it from a vantage point, what kind of challenges is the team facing right now in terms of finances, infrastructure, training facilities, etc.?
Indian Women’s Hockey team is in its infancy right now. We started only recently in 2016. Definitely, we are struggling in all spheres right now. Infrastructure, however, is the problem which is continuously pulling us down.
Ice Hockey is not a popular sport in India. We generally practice in areas like Ladakh and Shimla and there are no rinks whatsoever. That’s why we can train only during the winter time. As there are no professional training rinks, naturally frozen ice is our only resort. The textures of naturally frozen ice and the surface of the artificial skating rink greatly vary and this hampers our performance in the competitions.
Finances, of course, pose the next big problem. Considering limitation on financial resources, the association does whatever it can to develop the sport. We are grateful for the local people who have showed immense support and Mr. Harjinder Singh, the general secretary of Ice Hockey Association of India, who has self financed us for the tournaments in 2016 and 2018 whenever there was no crowd funding.
Quality equipment also used to be a major challenge earlier. Lately, however, this problem has been solved to some extent. We have been getting equipment support from players who come to play in Leh. Recently, Hayley Wickenheiser (6 time Olympian from Canada) and NHL ex-player Andrew Ference also got some equipment for us.
You mentioned foreign aid, what about the help provided by the Indian government? How are they helping?
Sadly, there is no government support at all. While we have been told that it is because of the reason that the sport is played in a very limited area, I frankly feel that it is just an excuse. Actually, a real bad excuse, considering the fact that we are representing the country on International platforms and have even won on Asian level.
So you are telling me that there is no financial remuneration whatsoever?
None at all. We are not funded by the government at all. The only financial support that we get is from the crowdfunding and the finances that the Hockey Association of India helps us with. What else can you expect considering the fact that the government did not even know about us until recently?
Given the gravity of problems, I am guessing that it must be a herculean task to meet the International standards. What kind of challenges do you face when you are competing on the International platforms?
Most of the Ice Hockey championships happen in either March or April, and we have to literally wait till December to begin our practice. With hardly 2-3 months of practice, we have to face the teams who have practiced all throughout the year and that makes all the difference.
When we went for our second championship in 2017, there were teams which were of the same standing as us. We could easily beat some of them. However, this time around, the very same teams didn’t just beat us but did that with double points. They have improved so much and with our 2 months of scanty practice, we can’t match their pace. This is really saddening.
What do you think are the important actions which need to be taken at the moment to take the game forward?
I think raising awareness about this sport is the need of the hour. If it doesn’t happen in the next few years, the performance will keep on deteriorating and the sport will die somewhere along the line. The thought breaks my heart and I don’t want it to happen.
When it comes to Indian media, it is just the men’s cricket team that enjoys its share of screen space and every other sport struggles for visibility. What is your message of media?
Just like everyone else in the country, I absolutely love cricket, too. However, in moments when we are deprived of our share of the recognition, there are times when I hate it. We are putting in a lot of hard work and you cannot censure us no matter how limited our reach is.
However, the onus lies on the audience as well. I am not saying don’t like or follow cricket but please realise that there also exist so many other sports. You should know about us too. Watch us and then you are free to decide if you wanna support us but at least give us a chance.
Let’s conclude our conversation on a happy and hopeful note. How about you talk about the happiest moment in your Ice Hockey career so far?
Oh, it has to be our International win against the Philippines. It was an out of the world feeling. We were all crying and the entire stadium was crying with us.
You know that feeling of immense joy when we watch an Indian team being felicitated at an International event after a phenomenal win? That moment of sheer, unadulterated pride when we witness the tricolor being unfurled and the National Anthem being played? The euphoric feeling when you feel like your veins will burst with the sudden surge of patriotism coursing through them? Of course, you do.
However, what we probably don’t know is the amount of effort, hard work, and support that goes into the creation of that one sporadic moment of serendipity. Therefore, the need of the hour is to support and nurture our sportswomen into becoming the fierce winners of future.
IWB has taken up its share of responsibility in impacting a change and supply them with the right dose of encouragement and motivation. We believe that every sports team deserves an anthem! In this effort, our exceptionally talented in-house Vocalist/songwriter Komal Panwar will sculpt a very personal anthem for the four teams that we are working with. This song will reflect their passion while encompassing their essence and energies.
A big shout-out to our partners –EPIC TV Channel, Oateo Oats, HRX, Gold’s Gym India, for joining us in solidarity and helping us in exploring the challenging road for sportswomen and what drives them to keep going, with their spirits intact and the heads held high. They have joined hands with IWB to push these women towards their best.
Epic TV Channel presents to you our campaign ‘The Locker Room.’ The channel is connecting culture between centuries by bringing out our inner Arjuna and is breathing life into the centuries-old epic warriors to create the new age champions of the four National Women’s Sports Teams,
Good nutrition is a pre-requisite to fitness and thus we have our Aussee Oats helping the four teams with the same. With their mantra “Eat Right, Feel Right, Do right,” they are putting their might and support behind these teams.
Our next partner Gold’s Gym is ready to inspire these women to “Move it, Pump up, Beat it” by making available their up to date gym facilities to all the four National Women’s Sports Teams to help them keep fit and stay healthy.
To keep the adrenaline flowing, and help the four teams race ahead on the field is HRX Brand. Finding power in their shoes provided by HRX Brand, the teams will be all fueled to blaze ahead, pumping their fists and shouting their anthem.
Exciting! Isn’t it? We have more sports rush coming your way! Stay tuned for our Twitter dialogues, exclusive interviews with the team captains and the custom-made anthems.
First published on Aug 24, 2018.