New Delhi: Indian hockey captain Rani Rampal was promoted to a level-10 coach by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) after she won The World Games Athlete of the Year award, SAI announced on Friday. Rani, it said, had joined the SA as an assistant coach in 2015.
Speaking about the initiative of SAI to reward Rani on her achievement, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said “As an organization, the welfare of sportspersons is SAI’s primary concern. It is the government’s duty to provide the best facilities to athletes and motivate them to perform better. Ensuring that our athletes have a sound financial standing is of immense importance. This is our way of appreciating Rani for all that she has contributed to the country.”
Rani captained the Indian side that qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016. She led the Indian women’s hockey team as Captain in the 2018 Asian Games which won a silver medal. She is also the recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2016.
It has been SAI’s endeavour to support athletes at all stages of their sporting career. This not only includes inducting them into SAI schemes and training centres from a young age and then supporting their careers when they become elite sportspersons, but also preparing them for a career after sport.
Over the last few years, SAI has appointed a number of leading sportspersons as coaches, even when they were active athletes, in order to ensure financial stability for them and their families. Athletes like Muhammad Anas Yahiya, Sharad Kumar, OP Jaisha, Savita Punia and Ashwini Akkunji, are among the athletes who are currently posted as coaches in SAI.
The initiative has also been appreciated by Narendra Dhruv Batra, President, Indian Olympic Association. “Firstly, I congratulate Rani on winning this prestigious award. This is not only a proud moment for the country but it has also drawn global attention on women’s hockey in India and I am sure this will inspire many women athletes to take up the sport. I welcome SAI’s initiative to give a promotion to Rani to motivate her further.” Batra said.
Rani was voted The World Games Athlete of the Year through an online voting process spanning three weeks. The hockey captain came out on top with over 199,000 votes. Rani has served the country with distinction since making her debut in 2009 as a 15-year-old.