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Young hockey champ hopes...

Twenty-one-year-old hockey goalie Bigan Soy often dreams of her dream debut in Germany, but when her eyes are open, she looks at the future.

Bigan, who became the toast of Team India’s historic bronze win against England in Hockey Junior Women’s World Cup last August in Mönchengladbach, Germany, is quietly working to earn a berth in the senior women’s squad.

Sharpening her goalie skills at SAI Centre in Ranchi, Bigan was in Jamshedpur on Tuesday as a Tata Steel guest to watch the finals of a local two-day U-16 boys tourney hosted by Tata Steel at Armoury grounds, Bistupur.

Dressed casually in jeans and sneakers, she looked like any other college girl. But as she watched the youngsters play, Bigan spoke of her own determination to make it to Team India senior women’s outfit, making her different.

“It’s tough to get in because there are some highly skilled goalies. But I am doing my job. Let’s see,” Bigan said.

She named two persons who were mentoring her.

“One is Helen Mary, the goal-keeping coach of the junior women’s national side. She stays in Mumbai and works with Indian Railways, but we meet in junior national training camps. I even call her up over the phone when I have a question. The other person I take help from is SAI’s chief coach S.K. Mohanty,” she said.

Sharing the tips, she reeled off: “Stance, body positioning, how to save shots hit from zero and tackling opponents from very close quarters are my worries. I keep asking my coaches questions on tactical play.”

The goalie from Chaibasa’s Bandgaon, who is also a BA Part II student at Khunti’s Birsa College, added she was looking forward to the upcoming senior national hockey tournament in Ranchi.

On whether she remembered her saves in the nail-biting penalty shootout versus England in the Junior World Cup last year, Bigan smiled.

“The tense moments, the saves, the hugs from team mates and praise from coaches after it was all over…I see them in my dreams still. When I wake up in the morning, I feel very happy, but I know I have a long way to go,” Bigan said.

Recounting the pressure-cooker match, she said: “Till the 70 minutes of the regular match, we were tied with England at 1-1. The match could have gone either way. I hadn’t played even a minute of the game. Suddenly, I was called to play in place of Chanu Sanarik Ningombam (regular goalie) during the final high-pressure penalty shootout. By the end of it, we had pinned down England 3-2 and we won bronze.”

As it was India’s first-ever medal at this event, the nation went into raptures. Strikers Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur got the most acclaim, but quiet Bigan, who stopped England’s score at two goals, was also noticed.