India’s Lalremsiami has been named as the 2019 FIH Women’s Rising Star of the Year, the International Hockey Federation announced recently. The 19-year-old attacker from Mizoram took the prize ahead of Argentina’s Julieta Jankunas and Frederique Matla of the Netherlands, who finished second and third respectively.
Lalremsiami was voted as the best upcoming talent in the world through an online poll that weighed the votes cast by national federations (50%), the press (25%) and fans (25%) to decide the winner.
Though Lalremsiami made her international debut for the Indian hockey team in 2017, but it was not until the 2018 FIH World Cup in London that the striker caught the eye of the hockey fraternity around the world. Banking on her ability to find space in the striking circle, the forward proved to be trouble for the opposition as she played a vital role in leading the Indian hockey team to a quarterfinal finish at the World Cup.
However, it was last year that the Indian hockey striker showed exemplary courage to fight through a personal loss and help her team secure a place in the Olympic qualification.
At the FIH World Series Finals in Hiroshima, Japan, the 19-year-old chose to stay with the team for the competition despite being informed of her father’s demise. “I wanted to make my father proud. I wanted to stay, play and make sure India qualified,” she had said.
Meanwhile, at the FIH Olympic qualifier, though Lalremsiami didn’t feature among the goals, the nippy striker ensured that she did enough to unsettle the USA defence to help create goal-scoring opportunities for her team-mates in what was an high-scoring affair.
Hailing from the tiny village of Kolasib in Mizoram, Lalremsiami was first introduced to the sport when she was 10. But unable to hone her skills at what was predominantly an agrarian region, the Indian youngster had to move her base to Thenzawl, more than 150 kilometres from Kolasi, to the only recognised hockey institute in the State.
“Hockey isn’t very famous in my village; very few people played the sport. However, I was always interested in playing hockey so I had to move to Thenzawl,” Lalremsiami had said in an interview with the Olympic Channel last year.
“Thenzawl was very far from my village so I had to move into their hostel in my early teenage years. Initially, there weren’t the best facilities there, we did not have a [astro] turf ground so we used to play on grass”.
Having successfully completed an arduous journey from a hamlet in Mizoram to the Indian hockey team at such a young age, Lalremsiami is now eager to go the distance with the team. And first up on her itinerary will be Tokyo 2020 later this year.