‘A goal I will remember for long’ Akshata cherishes the moment she beat Savita    

Pune, 24 March, 2024: It’s often said that playing against the best brings out the best in both teams and individuals. Hockey Maharashtra exemplified this notion with composure in a match many dubbed as India versus Maharashtra, earning respect akin to that of champions themselves.

Losing in the final of the 14th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship in a shoot-out was disappointing, especially as it was the second consecutive year, following a similar outcome in 2023. However, amidst this disappointment, one of the highlights was the equalizing goal scored by Akshata Abaso Dhekale.

Akshata’s goal extended Hockey Maharashtra’s presence in the game. In a personal note, she stated, “I would like to dedicate the goal to the hard work the team put in. I remain just the successor of their deed.” Her words reflected a humble acknowledgment of the team’s efforts, highlighting the down-to-earth approach fostered by coach Sagar Singh Thakur and manager Olympian Vikram Pillay in Hockey Maharashtra’s campaign.

Several additional statistics emerged at the conclusion of the host’s silver medal journey.

Hockey Maharashtra became only the second team to score against Hockey Haryana, with the first goal scored by Neha Lakra of the Hockey Association of Odisha in the quarterfinals.

Likewise, the goal will always be a memorable moment for Akshata, as she scored against her Indian teammate and captain, Savita Punia, a memory she will cherish for years to come.

Akshata’s penalty corner conversion against a goalkeeper having 279 international caps was the first and only goal conceded by Arjuna Awardee Savita, known as the ‘Great Wall of India,’ in the Senior Championship.

“I’ve always looked up to Savita,” Akshata shared. “She is a great and humble player, always offering advice when approached.”

Twenty-two-year-old Akshata laughed as she recalled the moment, adding, “I grew up hearing about Savita.” Hailing from Satara, Akshata made her Senior International debut in March 2022, a decade after two-time Olympian Savita made hers in 2009.

These are moments to cherish and not boast about,” Akshata added. “This goal will be long remembered as my best ever in senior competition, considering the significance it holds.”

“I am grateful to have represented Hockey Maharashtra, especially during a time when the crowd turned out in large numbers and remained silent during the final,” she explained.

“Gaining personal recognition, but also bringing smiles to many faces in that moment, makes achievements truly memorable.”

“Last but not least, my sincere thanks to Manoj Bhore sir and KP (Krishna Prakash, IPS) sir for their unwavering support in ensuring we had the best.”