Sunelita Toppo and Jyoti Chattri from Rourkela will be returning home as the Indian Women’s Hockey Team prepares to play their first-ever international game at the grand Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium today.
Sunelita Toppo and Jyoti Chattri from Rourkela will be returning home when the Indian Women’s Hockey Team plays its first-ever international game on Monday at the grand Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. Speaking before of India’s FIH Pro League return match against China, graduates of the rich ecosystem of Odisha, Sunelita and Jyoti shared their delight about the chance to play in front of their family in Rourkela.
Sunelita, who trained at SAI Sundargarh, won a spot in the Junior National Camp after representing Odisha at the 2022 National Games in Gujarat.
She made her debut on the international scene in 2023 in the Junior Women’s Asia Cup, rapidly building her profile and gaining swift access to the Senior Team roster. In November 2023, the teenage girl competed for India at the Junior World Cup. She later made her senior team debut in the FIH Pro League Bhubaneswar leg. Additionally, she participated in Odisha’s bronze medal winning team at the just concluded 6th Khelo India Youth Games 2023.
I never would have thought I’d get to perform for my family at home. Everyone at home is ecstatic about the FIH Pro League matches in Rourkela and there’s a unique atmosphere. To top it off, it will be the team’s first-ever game at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. Sunelita, sixteen, said, “I’m really looking forward to it.
In the meantime, Jyoti, 20, began her hockey career at Panposh Sports Hostel. She later joined the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre in 2020, which allowed her to earn a berth on the Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team. In 2023, she made her debuts with both the junior and senior squads. Following her victory in the Junior Asia Cup, she participated in the 4 Nations Women’s Invitational Tournament in 2023. She participated in the recent FIH Hockey5s World Cup Oman 2024, which saw India earn the silver medal.
Jyoti remarked, “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since last year, when the Men’s Hockey World Cup was taking place. It is a dream come true for me to play for my country at home in front of my family.”
David John, Director of Hockey in Odisha, commented on Sunelita and Jyoti’s homecoming, saying, “Sunelita and Jyoti will be very thrilled and proud to play in front of their family, friends, and teammates, especially at Birsa Munda Stadium, which will be full house. While playing at home comes with high expectations and some pressure to perform, these three players will represent the state honorably.”
He went on to say that Odisha, with its strong hockey infrastructure, would become a powerhouse in Indian hockey. “Odisha hockey’s future seems very bright after winning gold in boys hockey and bronze in ladies hockey at the Malaysian International event and Khelo India Games in Chennai. “With up to 2500 young players training every day in Odisha Grassroot Training Centres, Odisha State will become a powerhouse of Indian hockey over the next decade,” he concluded.