New Delhi, Nov 30 (UNI) Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF) General Secretary Amrit Bose believes that the Four-nation Women's Hockey tournament beginning here tomorrow would be a good platform to groom youngsters in the absence of a couple of injured senior players.
Seasoned mid-fielder Asunta Lakra, forwards Surinder Kaur and Jasjeet Kaur were not included in the 18-member Indian squad due to injury and a couple of juniors like Rosalind Ralte, Manorama Devi, Ranjita Devi and Anuradha Devi have been drafted into the team.
''Asunta, Surinder and Jasjeet were injured and they are now in the rehabilitation clinic at NIS Patiala. They will be back for the Olympic qualifiers,'' Ms Bose told UNI today at the pre-tournament press conference.
''Rosalin, Manorama and Ranjita are talented youngsters. They may not play in the tournament but at least they will not be intimidated when they go abroad for tours and international tournaments in future,'' she added.
India will play Olympic qualifiers in Kazan in Russia from April 19-27 and the opponents are USA, Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Chinese Taipei and hosts Russia.
Before that they will tour Australia and play matches against top Australian teams and national team from January 8-19.
The Indian team will then go to Oman to play friendlies against the national team of the Netherlands from January 24-30.
''Netherlands national side, which will play at the Beijing Olympics, has invited us to play against them at Oman as the climate there is similar to Beijing.'' ''After that our national team will undergo a camp before the Olympic qualifiers in April,'' she said.
India captain Mamta Kharab echoed Ms Bose and said the juniors will get the exposure of international match at home ground.
Mamta said it is very important for her side to win the tournament as a buildup to the Olympic qualifiers.
''We have a month-long foreign tour and camp before the Olympic qualifiers. A win in this tournament will boost us in the upcoming matches against Australia and Netherlands,'' she said.
''We have the blend of youth and experience and we want to win the tournament,'' she added.
Ms Bose said the IWHF would try to hold such tournaments at least four times in a year in order to popularise hockey, especially women's hockey.
She said Directorate of Sports of Punjab Government is organising another four-nation tournament in February next year and IWHF will see another coming up later next year.
''Our endeavour is to have at least four such tournaments in a year,'' she said.
Ms Bose said after the bronze in Doha Asian Games and because of 'Chak De India' effect some corporate houses, including foreign companies, have come forward to sponsor Indian women's team.
''After 'Chak De' and some good performance in recent past, corporate houses have started taking interest in women's hockey. I can not give you the names now but a foreign company has even contacted me expressing interest in sponsoring women's team,'' Ms Bose said.