Women's hockey team's newest member Vaishnavi Phalke looks to make improvements after first tour

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After strong performances with the Junior Women's side, Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke is ready for the big stage with the Senior Indian Women's Hockey Team. She made her International debut during team's Tour of South Africa recently where she impressed with a total of three goals against South Africa.

The team secured three victories and one draw against the home side followed by three matches against World No.1 Netherlands, against whom she scored in the first match. Talking about her memorable debut, Vaishnavi said, "I was quite surprised when Chief Coach Janneke announced my name in the squad for South Africa. I didn't expect to get a call-up for the Senior side so early. It also made me quite nervous that I would be playing against a top team like the Netherlands." 

"But I spoke to the Senior players and also Janneke before the match and they really calmed my nerves. They asked me to play simple hockey and not play with any pressure. That gave me some confidence and also scoring goals against quality teams automatically helps you gain confidence," stated the youngster who marched into the Senior National Camp in September last year after playing for the Junior side for about three years. 

Born to a humble farmer's family in Satara district, Maharashtra, Vaishnavi picked hockey as her No.1 choice when she joined a Government Sports Academy in Pune. "We were given one year to try different sports and eventually we had to pick one as our choice to pursue. Although my Coaches there wanted me to take up athletics as a walker, I absolutely enjoyed hockey and had picked up the skills over a span of nine months in the academy so I ended up choosing hockey," she recalled. 

In 2019, Vaishnavi received her first call-up for Hockey India's National Program after she had impressed at the 9th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2019 (A Div) in Kollam, Kerala. Once she made her entry into the Junior National Camp, there was no looking back for this youngster as she represented India at the FIH Junior Hockey Women's World Cup in South Africa last year. She was also part of the team that played the Chile Tour as well as the 5 Nations Tour in Ireland. 

"Now my focus is on taking my performance to the next level, learning from the Senior players in the team, and making the best of the opportunity in the National Camp," she signed off. 

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