The whole country is celebrating Indian women’s hockey team for scripting a history by entering into semi-final in Olympics for the first time. In the midst of this celebration, we stumbled over captain Rani Rampal’s inspiring journey from living in poverty to becoming a national pride.
Do you know Rani Rampal became the youngest player in the national team for 2010 World Cup at the age of 15? Rani Rampal has achieved many such accolades in her life by beating her tough life circumstances.
She recently shared her inspiring story with HOB. In her story, she mentioned how she started practising with a “broken hockey stick”. Her childhood was poverty stricken as her father worked as cart-puller and mother as househelp.
While sharing the details she mentioned: “I wanted an escape from my life; from the electricity shortages to the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear, from barely having 2 meals to seeing our home getting flooded. There was only so much my parents could do–Papa was a cart puller & Maa was a maid.
There was a hockey academy nearby, so I’d spend hours watching the players–I really wanted to play. Papa would earn Rs.80 a day & couldn’t afford to buy me a stick. Everyday, I’d ask the coach to teach me. He’d reject me saying, ‘You aren’t strong enough to pull through a practice session.’ So, I began practicing with a broken hockey stick–I used to run around in a salwar kameez. But I was determined; maine bahut mushkil se convince kiya coach ko!”
However Rani Rampal’s family was not in favour of watching their daughter play in a skirt! “But my family said, ‘Hum tumhe skirt pehen kar khelne nahi denge.’ I’d plead, ‘Please mujhe jaane do. If I fail, I’ll do whatever you want.’ My family gave in.”
Sharing details of her training schedule, she mentioned:
“Training would start early; we didn’t have a clock, so mom would look at the sky to check if it was time to wake me. At the academy, it was mandatory for each player to bring 500 ml of milk. My family could only afford milk worth 200 ml; so I’d mix the milk with water & drink it. My coach supported me; he’d buy me hockey kits & shoes. He even took care of my dietary needs. I wouldn’t miss a single day of practice.”
While sharing the details of her first victory, she added: – “I remember I won Rs.500 at a tournament & gave the money to Papa. He hadn’t ever held so much money in his hands. I promised my family, ‘One day, we’ll have our own home’; I did everything in my power to work towards that.”
After representing my state, I finally got a national call up at 15! Still, my relatives would only ask me when I was getting married. But Papa said, ‘Play until your heart’s content.’ With my family’s support, I eventually became captain of the Indian hockey team!
Soon after, papa’s friend visited us. He brought along his granddaughter & told me, ‘She’s inspired by you & wants to become a hockey player!’ I was so happy!
And then in 2017, I fulfilled the promise I made to my family & bought a home. We cried & held each other tightly! And I’m not done yet; this year, I’m determined to repay them & Coach with something they’ve always dreamed of–a gold medal from Tokyo.”
At IFORHER, we applaud Rani for her endless courage and strong determination. Her inspiring story of fighting against society and life circumstances to create a life of her dreams, is a life-lesson that we all need!