10 years of
One Thousand Hockey Legs
>> HWL 2015 Wallpapers
>> Men's HWL Wallpapers
>> Men's HIL Wallpapers
>> Men's Team Wallpapers
>> Women's Team Wallpapers

Print Icon   Email Icon Back
Helen Mary 'Protects' India (2/20/2004)
--Manuja Veerappa
FROM a little girl who took to goalkeeping because her mother thought 'It was the safest position on a hockey field' to becoming the blue-eyed girl of Indian women's hockey, Helen Mary Innocent has come a long way. The fire in her belly burns as brightly as it did when she made her international debut 11 years ago. From her heroics at the Afro Asian Games to her stunning saves with a broken fingure at the Asia Cup, Helen is the new star of Indian women's hockey. The BCYA prodigy spoke to VT Sport on her visit to home town Bangalore on Monday.

Afro Asian Games, the turning point: It was our first major success on home ground. It was a magical experience. We went into to the competition with a medal prospect, but the gold was a bonus. It was an entirely new experience especially when the team lifted me in celebration. The success took a while to sink in.

Success at the Asia Cup: Being very frank, although we were confident of a good show. We didn't see ourselves in the final. We always thought South Korea and Japan were tough nuts to crack. On the eve of our encounter with South Korea, captain Suraj Lata Devi and I were up all night trying to figure out how to counter the drag push which the Koreans were very good at. That's when I decided, if I stop the first ball that I face then things would be fine. And it worked the way we planned. Once we were in the final, we knew, a gold medal wasn't a lofty ambition.

Playing the final with a fractured finger: I hurt my fingure during warm up. I knew it was bad and I was given a pain killer injection and ice pack. But once I got onto the field I really didn't have time to think about the finger because the Japanese played an attacking game and the ball was in our 'D' for a major part of the match. I realised the pain only when people crowded around me and shook hands.

On having captured the imagination of Indian hockey lovers: It really hasn't sunk in. But I've worked for this day for the past 11 years. Now I play with a lot more confidence. Because I know i'm good. I guess I getting my dues now.

Coach Negi's influence : Negi sir has been my pillar of support. He built the much needed confidence in me. He was the one who taught me that 'on field there are only two things that is the ball and me' and only one aim which is to stop the ball. This screening of mind has helped me and it shows in my performance. Away from home: For most part of the year, I'm away in Mumbai or tournament. But I always look forward to coming to Bangalore because my family is here.

Support on the home front: I have been very fortunate about it. My husband Laxman Rao who is a player with Karnataka State Police shares my dreams. He is my major support system. My parents and in laws stand by me. That helps me grow as a player.

On her early days: My brother was also a player. He always came home with some injury or the other. So when I started playing my mother said: 'Become a goalkeeper so you stand well protected.' So there I was in the goal post - Well protected as per my mothers wishes."

"I started to play hockey because I always saw my best friends Pallavi and Laxmishree going to Coorg and Mandya to play tournaments. The kho-kho and basketball players never travelled.So I thought if I played hockey I would get to travel with my friends."

On her first coach VR Rajendra: "He was a father figure for me. In those days we knew nothing about reflexes we only thought about stopping the ball - by hook or crook. But Rajendra sir, really helped me. He would take me to the long jump pit and teach me diving. Those are things which I can never forget."

Playing for Karnataka: "I've started my career here. This is home. But the Association never considers me for selections. I have always wanted to comeback and play for my State. Even now if time permits, I'm always ready to don the State colours. Railways are my employers, but thee are tournaments where Railways don't play and the State team plays. I can always play for Karnataka in such tournaments."

Railways' contribution in success: "They have always supported me with incentives, cash rewards and promotions. I will continue to play for them."

Looking ahead: "I feel there is a lot of hockey left in me. This time we couldn't make it to Athens. But like every other sportsperson, Olympics is my ultimate dream. Besides this we are going toAustralia and New Zealand for a Test series in April. But I'm looking forward to the World Cup and Commonwealth Games."

Courtesy: Vijay Times

Stick2Hockey App on android
SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Discussion Board
Write a Message
Your Message
Replying  Message Close
Your Message