Savita Punia is an Indian women field hockey goalkeeper. She is also a hockey player and a member of the Indian national field hockey team. In 2018, she received the Arjuna award for her outstanding performance in hockey.
Savita Punia was born on Wednesday, 11 July 1990 (age 31 years; as of 2021) in village Jodhkan, Sirsa district, Haryana, India. Her zodiac sign is Cancer. She pursued her schooling at Maharaja Agrasain girls’ school, Haryana. ESPN
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Weight (approx.): 60 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Her parents’ names are not known.
Her grandfather’s name is Mahinder Singh.
She has a brother and a sister.
On 5 April 2023, she got married to Ankit Balhara, a Canada-based software engineer, at a hotel, Park Plaza, in Chandigarh.
Savita Punia was encouraged by her grandfather to play hockey during her school days. Soon, she got admission to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at Hisar. Her first hockey coach was Sunder Singh Kharab. In the initial period of learning hockey, Savita was not much interested in playing the sport. Later on, a hockey kit worth rupees twenty thousand was purchased by her father to her. This hockey kit paved her way to take the sport seriously. According to Savita, the hockey kit bought by her father changed her mind to play the sport by heart. She revealed in an interview,
My attitude towards the game changed after my dad bought me the kit. My zeal to work hard and get selected for the national team was a way to pay him back for the efforts he has put in for me.”
In 2007, she started training under the top goalkeeper. Soon, she participated in a state-level hockey event at Lucknow and finished at a maiden. In an interview, she narrated her family situations when she started playing national level games,
From the fifth standard, I used to take care of everything at home after my mother fell ill and was hospitalized. But my grandfather was adamant about me leaving the house to achieve something more and so were the rest of the people at home who were very open-minded and wanted me to achieve something.”
In 2007, she played her first national-level hockey event. In 2008, Savita Punia marked her first International debut in a four-nation event in Netherlands and Germany. In 2009, she played as a member of the Indian hockey team at the Junior Asia Cup. Punia played her first senior-level international match in 2011. At the international level, she has played more than 100 games. In 2013, she played at the Eighth Women’s Asia Cup organised in Malaysia and stopped two main goals in the penalty shoot-out that helped India to win a bronze medal. Savita Punia was part of the Indian hockey team that won a bronze medal in 2014 at the Incheon Asian Games. Punia was honoured with The Baljit Singh Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2015 at the Hockey India Annual Awards along with the cash reward of Rs. 1 lakh. She earned this award for her outstanding international contributions to the hockey sport. In 2016, Punia played her best as a goalkeeper at the last moment of the match while defending the balls at the penalty corners against Japan. This led India to win the match by a 1-0 score and an entry to the Rio Olympics after 36 years. In 2017, at the Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand, the Indian hockey team finish 6th in the tournament because of her outstanding performance in the match. Around the same year, her extraordinary performance as a goalkeeper helped the Indian women’s hockey team to defeat Chile in Round 2 of the final championships. In 2018, as an outstanding goalkeeper, she protected India from China in the final match of the Asia Cup. After the match, she was awarded the goalkeeper of the tournament award. This victory helped Women Indian hockey team to enter the 2018 World Cup in London. Indian women hockey team was selected for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. In a conversation with a media house, Savita Punia exclaimed her feelings and goals,
Rio was past, and our aim is to return with a medal from Tokyo. This team has immense self-belief, and this group can top beat any top team on the given day. We don’t have fear factor anymore.”
- 2014: Bronze medal – third place in Team at Asia Cup, Incheon, South Korea
- 2017: Gold medal – first place in Team at Gifu, Japan
- 2018: Silver medal – second place in Team at Asian Games, Jakarta
- Workout Exercise: Strength
- Winning Moment: Asia Cup (Best G K) in 2017 and Asian Games(Silver medal) and Arjuna Award in 2018.
- In her leisure time, Savita Punia adores watching movies and reading about goalkeeping and the experiences of other goalkeepers.
- During her initial period of practising hockey, she started playing as a midfielder. After a year, Sundar Singh Kharab, her hockey mentor, wanted her to be a goalkeeper. Her height was the reason behind it, and he also advised her that goalkeeping would increase the chances for her selection in the Indian hockey team. Her grandfather told in an interview,
Kharab sir told me that Savita can be a good goalkeeper due to her height. He, in fact, guaranteed me that she will be in the Indian team when she was just 12 or 13.”
- In 2016, Punia blamed the Haryana Government that she was promised a job under the scheme ‘Medal Lao, Naukri Pao’ but was not conferred with the same. She said in an interview,
I have only been given assurances by the government officers. For the last three years, that’s what I have been living on.”
- In 2018, Savita Punia received the Arjuna Award for her extraordinary performance in hockey goalkeeping.
- According to Savita Punia, her sporting role model is her grandfather. In her biography, she said,
My grandfather, it is only because of him that I am here. He always supported me so much. He was always very encouraging and I think I am where I am today because of his encouragement and blessings. I remember when I had first played for India, dadaji heard that the news was in the newspaper, and at 67 years of age, he decided to learn to read. After a year or so, he learned reading and then made me sit with him and read the news out loud. It was a really great moment, and the biggest inspiration for me.”
- In a conversation with a media house, she revealed that at the beginning of the learning, she was scared of hockey balls. In an interview, she revealed,
I studied in a hostel after Std VI. The hostel was two hours away from home. To escape hockey training, I would come up with several excuses. I was made a goalkeeper because of my height. I was very scared of the ball.”
- According to Punia, her first experience while representing India at the international level gave her goosebumps. She expressed in an interview,
I remember the first time I stepped on to the field and sang the national anthem – I had goosebumps and decided that I wanted to do it wholeheartedly. It was a life-changing moment for me. Even though I was the second-choice goalkeeper then, after Dipika Murthy, it was a great experience.”
- In an interview, Punia stated that hockey gave her family huge respect and that was her favourite thing about hockey sport. She said,
My family has received great respect through hockey – and that is my favourite part. When I had started playing, no one used to really play any sport in my village. Now, because of my performances and because people have gotten to know about me.”
- As a sports personality, Punia extensively does high-intensity workouts daily. In an interview, she stated,
Our day, typically starts with individual high-intensity workouts or body-weight training, and then we proceed to do some analysis which our coaching staff gives us individually.”
- Savita Punia, in a video interview, while sharing her views on winning a match.