India women's hockey goalkeeper and captain Savita feels the dual responsibility of being the last line of defence and leading the side requires her to train the mind differently, so that she can help the team more efficiently in pressure situations.
Speaking about the dual responsibilities, Savita said, "The position of goalkeeper is a different responsibility. As an experienced goalkeeper, I always train with the mind-set that I have to help the team. As a captain, your responsibility increases because you have to take care of your game and also manage the performance of your team."
Savita led Indian in the debut season of the FIH Pro League 2021/22 where the team finished third. She also led the team at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games where India beat New Zealand 1-1 (2-1 SO) to win bronze.
"It is possible that someday your team might not be performing well, so you have to motivate them as a captain. But working under chief coach Janneke Schopman, we are able to divide the responsibilities among ourselves, so I feel it has helped me play freely, without feeling the pressure," added Savita.
Savita also expressed her gratitude on being nominated for the FIH Women's Goalkeeper of the Year Award 2021-22, and said she feels she is moving in the right direction. Savita, who had won the award in the same category in the previous edition, said that the support from her teammates and coaching staff has proven to be helpful.
"I feel quite good about being nominated in consecutive years. We continued to train hard after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the entire year. Getting a nomination again makes me feel that I am moving in the right direction in training," said Savita.
"The coaching staff and the players have been quite supportive. We have always worked together in every competition. No achievement is an individual achievement for any of us, but the result of team efforts.As a goalkeeper, my job is to ensure my team feels happy with my performance and we all strive to help each other out in achieving the results.
If one of us is nominated, each and every member of the team receives appreciation and this is what makes me happy," the 32-year-old added.The Indian team returned to the training camp on August 29, as they prepare for the FIH Women's Nations Cup set to be played in December.
The team is also looking forward for the Asian Games next year.Savita said winning a medal at the Birmingham Games has created a positive environment in the camp."After winning a CWG medal, we all felt quite motivated and we all were eager for the camp to begin so that we can start working on the areas where we can improve upon.
All the players are working really hard at the camp, and it is quite a positive environment at the camp," Savita said."The most important tournament for us next year is the Asian Games. We will be competing in the FIH Nations Cup in December as well, but our main goal is to be prepared for the Asian Games," she added.
Apart from Savita, Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year Men), PR Sreejesh (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Men), Sanjay (FIH Rising Star of the Year Men), Mumtaz Khan (FIH Rising Star of the Year Women), Graham Reid (FIH Men's Team Coach of the Year Men) and Janneke Schopman (FIH Women's Team Coach of the Year Women) have also been nominated for FIH Hockey Star Awards 2021-22.