India is all set to mark its women’s softball debut at the upcoming Asian Games, set to take place later this year in Hangzhou, China. Just days ahead of the Games, Softba ll Association of India (SBAI) has named a 16-player roster for the continental competition, along with one standby and three reserves.
After a two-week coaching camp and trials in Delhi in June and July, the squad was picked. The representation of players covers nine states of India, with Maharashtra having the most with five players. While Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Telangana, and Madhya Pradesh each have a player each, while Kerala and Punjab have three and two players, respectively.
In February this year, Softball Asia, the sport's continental governing body, granted the Indian women's softball team a wild card entrance. The team's frequent participation in the Asian Championships was taken into consideration when granting the wild card status.
Neetal Narang, President of the SBAI, expressed her joy and hope for the team's debut at the Asian Games. She claimed that it was a chance for the players to stand out and demonstrate their talent against the top Asian teams. She added that it was a historic achievement that will motivate upcoming generations of young athletes, particularly females, to choose softball as their sport of choice.
In addition, Narang stated that the team's performance at the Asian Games would be a step towards their objective of being able to compete in softball at the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She claimed that in order to get ready for the 2028 Olympics, Hangzhou will serve as a solid starting point.
The top-ranked teams in the world, including South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei, and Japan, will provide difficult opposition for the Indian women's softball squad. In its first appearance at the Asian Games, the squad intends to put on a strong performance and leave a lasting impression.
Full women’s softball squad for Asian Games 2023:
Aishwarya Ramesh Puri, Aishwarya Sunil Bodke, Monali Mansing Natu, Swapnali C. Waydnade, Saee Anil Joshi, Anjali Pallikkara, Stephy Saji, Rinta Cheriyan, Mamatha Guguloth, Ganga Sona, Mamta Minhas, Sandeep Kaur, Kumari Manisha, Isha, Swetasini Sabar, Nitya Malvi, Priyanka Baghel (standby).
Reserves: Manisha Kumari, Priti Verma, Chitra.