The Indian women’s hockey team will play in the FIH Pro League for the first time in the third season of the competition in 2021-22.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed that Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the 2021-22 season of the FIH Pro League due to COVID-related international travel restrictions imposed by their respective governments.
India and Spain will replace them only for the current season. Both Australia and New Zealand will be back next season.
The Indian women’s team will begin its maiden FIH Pro League campaign on February 19 against the Netherlands - a four-time Olympic and eight-time world champion.
The Dutchwomen have also won the first two seasons of the women’s FIH Pro League.
The FIH Pro League appearance comes on the back of what has been a whirlwind year for the Indian women’s hockey team.
Barely considered as contenders leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, India scraped through the group stages before ousting heavyweights Australia in the quarter-finals.
A loss to eventual silver-medallists Argentina in the semis put them in a bronze medal playoff against Rio 2016 champions Great Britain. The Indian women narrowly missed out on bronze after a heartbreaking 4-3 loss.
In three appearances since 1980, Tokyo 2020 was India’s best-ever finish at an Olympics.
The Indian women’s team rose to world No. 8 post Tokyo 2020, its best-ever ranking, and India’s efforts were recognised in the recent FIH Stars Awards.
Vice-captain Savita Punia was adjudged the ‘FIH Goalkeeper of the Year’ while drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur was named the ‘FIH Player of the Year.’ Striker Sharmila Devi won the ‘FIH Rising Star of the Year’.