Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam who has cemented her place as a regular in the women`s national hockey team has said that making a comeback into the side after her injury was a long and hard one.
"It has been a long, hard journey back into the team after suffering my second major injury in 2018. It was an important year in terms of the tournaments which were happening, and missing the FIH Women`s Hockey World Cup London 2018, Asian Games 2018 and the AHF Women`s Champions Trophy was a major blow for me psychologically," Pukhrambam said.
"They were all major tournaments and any player would want to represent the country at such events, but it wasn`t meant to be. However, now I have the chance to stay fit and keep performing for my country," she added.
She suffered long-term injuries in 2016 and 2018 and it played a spoilsport in the midfielder`s playing career as she missed the FIH Women`s Hockey World Cup London 2018 and the Asian Games. The midfielder led the side at the Rio Olympics 2016 but it was not an easy task for Pukhrambam as she had just suffered an injury to her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at the beginning of the year.
However, she recovered from the injury in quick time to make it to the Indian squad for the prestigious quadrennial event.
"I think 2016 was probably the hardest year for me towards the start because it was the year of the Olympic Games, and it had always been my dream to represent the country at the Olympics. But with the hard work put in by the medical staff into my recovery, I was able to make it to the team, and was bestowed with the huge honour of captaining the side," the midfielder said.
The 27-year-old was also the skipper of the junior women`s team which bagged the bronze medal at the World Cup in Monchengladbach in 2013, and she recalled the victory as one of the best moments of her career.
"I think the bronze medal at the Junior World Cup in Germany was the best moment for me so far in my career. We beat England in the shoot-out in the Bronze Medal match. We were all very happy with the performance, but the best thing about that win was that it gave our entire team the belief that we could beat anyone," she said.
"I have missed a lot of tournaments in the recent past, but I am very determined now to be a part of the Indian team and help my team in achieving our goals. The first upcoming test for us will be the tour of England where we will be playing against a strong Great Britain team. After that, we will have the all-important FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha where we face USA, so we will be focusing on preparing well, and producing our best collective performances in the upcoming two months," she added.
The team is scheduled to play five matches against Great Britain in Marlow, England from September 27 to October 4, 2019.