It is a proud moment for the state of Jharkhand as two of its girls represented the country in the semi-finals of Women’s Hockey at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time in the history of the state. Nikki Pradhan from Hesal and Salima Tete from Simdega gave a tough fight to their competitors in the Tokyo Olympics.
As the Indian women team scripted history by storming into the semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics, residents of Hesal and Badkichapar were thrilled after watching two of their girls on a the greatest stage of sports.
The back-story of two of these women speaks volumes about their journey from Naxal hotbed of Jharkhand to representing India on the global map.
Nikki Pradhan, who is the first woman hockey player from Jharkhand to represent India in the Olympics.
Hailing from an area known to be a Naxal stronghold, Pradhan riddled with financial troubles while growing up. Her elder sister, who also played hockey, had worked as a labourer in order to purchase a hockey stick.
She was in and out of the national structure before finally securing a spot in the team in 2015, just in time for Rio, where she became the first player from her state to play at the Olympics.
Her father, was a police personnel in Bihar and would often stay away from home, while Pradhan’s mother would take care for the family farm and the children.
Salima Tete’s hockey journey began at a very young age. She was born in the Naxal stronghold, which is also a hockey hotbed of Jharkhand’s Hesal . She worked on the family’s farm, earned money and bought a hockey stick for herself. In the absence of proper hockey blades, Tete would use wooden sticks to practice.
Her family back home had been unable to watch her play as the sole TV set in the village had been out of order for years and the internet connectivity stays poor. But a day before the Olympic Hockey semifinals, the District Administration installed a new TV set at the native village of Salima.