More than a decade back, Savitri Devi enrolled the youngest of her three daughters at a hockey academy in Haryana’s Sonepat. The reason was that she could escape the “toxic” atmosphere at home.
Today, that daughter is set to make her maiden appearance for India. On the world’s biggest sporting stage — the Olympic Games. Neha Goyal, 24, is part of the 16-member Indian women’s hockey team.
Working alongside her mother and sisters at the cycle factory straightening spokes for about Rs 2,000 a month to Team India. it has been an incredible journey for the promising midfielder.
And yet, her teammates confide, she has always been “among the happy-go-lucky players in the team”. Always smiling face, no matter what the situation, is the charismatic personality of Neha Goyal.
Neha, whose father passed away a few years ago, continued helping her mother even after she started playing hockey. She never shied away from extra work. But she used to feel a little scared when her father came to the hockey ground. She used to freeze. Ultimately, I had to tell him to stay away from my academy.
At 4-feet-9, Neha most often isn’t the tallest player on the field. But in a sport that is increasingly getting physical, height is her weapon. Her runs are not spotted easily so she can get into dangerous goal-scoring positions.