Having been earmarked for bigger things, India women hockey midfielder Salima Tete‘s senior career didn’t began on an ideal note as she failed to live up to the expectations after making debut against Belarus in 2017. Also Read - Delhi Borders Open From Tomorrow For Outsiders, But COVID-19 Beds at Govt Hospitals Reserved For Delhiites

Lack of confidence and nerves got the better of the youngster who steadily made her way back through eye-catching performances at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. Also Read - Delhi Government Removes 70% 'Special Corona Fee' From Alcohol, New Prices to Come into Effect From June 10

“I lacked confidence when I played for the senior team in 2017. I was scared and that reflected on my game. It was not a memorable debut for me,” the 19-year-old said. Also Read - Uttar Pradesh News: Kanpur IG Mohit Agarwal Pays Fine For Not Wearing Mask in Public

Alongside captain Siami Lalremsiami, Salima took the on the leadership role as India returned home with a silver medal and her display even drew praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

” “It was at the 3rd Youth Olympic Games where I really stepped up my game. Siami and I would tell ourselves before every match that we have to lead the team from the front so that the rest of the squad would play with confidence. I feel the experience I gained from this multi-discipline event was a turning point,” she recalled.

Salima, who hails from the Simdega district in Jharkhand, credited the senior members in the India squad for encouraging her. “The seniors in the team have really helped me improve my performance. They constantly talk to me and encourage me especially when we play big teams like Australia, Spain or Jan. The year 2019 in specific was extremely good for the women’s team and we have been on the right path,” she said.

The India women hockey team is currently at the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru where they are continuing to train amid the coronavirus lockdown. With the Tokyo Olympics delayed by a year, Salima reckons it has given the team extra time to further improve their game.

“There is a lot of scope to improve our game in the next one year and by focusing on our fitness during the lockdown, we are in shape to re-start training once all this is over (lockdown). We are mentally prepared to work hard and face any challenges that come our way in our preparations for the Olympic Games,” she said.