India goalkeeper Savita Punia has received many accolades for her on-field heroics but she could not secure a job for herself despite all the success in a nine-year international career.
Last Sunday, Savita produced a stunning save in a tense shootout in the thrilling final against China to help India win the Asia Cup women's hockey title and secure a berth in next year's World Cup.
The team broke a 13-year-old jinx when Savita foiled an attempt from the rivals to ensure a 5-4 win. India had failed to qualify for the last World Cup and finished ninth in the 2010 edition.
"I am very happy that I could contribute to the team's win. I work harder to bring more laurels and will not let my unemployment affect my game," said Savita.
"I have been trying for a job for last nine years. I was promised a job under the Haryana Government's 'Medal Lao, Naukri Pao' scheme, but I have only been given assurances by officers.
"I am 27 now and still depend on my father's income. I am playing for my country for last 9 years and every time after a win, I hope to get a job but nothing changes."
Savita, who hails from Hisar, made her international debut in 2008 and has just completed 150 caps in Asia cup. She started playing Hockey as per the wish of her grandfather Mahinder Singh and starred in India's bronze medal effort in Junior Asia Cup in 2009.
"I should take care of my parents but it is opposite in my case. My father is a pharmacist and it is not easy to run a family with his solo income," said Savita.
She had also applied for a coaching job with SAI after Rio Olympics but did not get any response from them.
"Sometimes I get very tense when I see my parents. My mother is worried that I don't have a job. My father encourages me to do well and I never let my game affected by my unemployment. But it is constantly in my mind when I am out of the ground," she said.
Savita hopes that Asia Cup win will help her to get a job.
"We have a sports minister who has been an Olympic medallist. I hope he will understand this and this title win also help me to get a job," she said while giving credit to goal-keeping coach Bharat Chhetri and chief coach Harendra Singh for her performance.
"I also hope that this will raise the profile of women Hockey in India and more girls will take up the game.