Hockey India have announced that the entire women's hockey team will be given a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for sealing qualification to the Olympics after 36 years. The Indian eves acheived the feat after a decent display at the EuroHockey Championship in London last August.
The India women's hockey team had previously qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, where they finished fourth.
Apart from the women's team, the entire support staff will be awarded the cash prize from Hockey India. It will be handed over to the members of the hockey team on March 26 at the Hockey India awards in Bengaluru.
"It's a very big achievement for women's hockey in India," India women's hockey team skipper Ritu Rani was quoted as saying by Hockey India's official website. "Till now, the Gold in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester was the most celebrated moment for women's hockey, but by qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics, we have managed to push the bar higher.
"A good performance in the Olympics will help to take women's hockey in India a long way ahead. This recognition by Hockey India will further motivate us to put up a good show," the 24-year-old halfback added.
Ritu, along with defender Dipika Murthy, forward Rani Rampal and goalkeeper Savita Punia are also in contention to bag the Women's Player of the Year award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh.
The Indian women's team finished fifth at the Hockey World League semifinals in July last year, opening up an enormous opportunity for them to make it to the Rio Olympics. They could only confirm the spot for the 2016 Olympics if any of the two already-qualified teams reached the final of the EuroHockey Championship.
England, who had already sealed qualification to the Rio Olympics, got past Spain in the semifinal of the tournament and that paved the way for the Indian eves to make it to Rio 2016.
The mega quadrennial event is scheduled to begin in Brazil on August 5. Apart from India, Asian Games Champions Korea, Pan American Games champions Argentina, Great Britain, China, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the USA have sealed the qualification to the women's hockey tournament of the Rio Olympics.