Hopefully we can bring back SAFF trophy, says Aditi Chauhan
Guwahati, September 11: Aditi Chauhan has been India’s number one goalkeeper for a while. The Goa-born keeper is now playing in the 2022 SAFF Women’s Championship in Nepal where India progress to claim their sixth title.
Aditi had associations with Loughborough University and West Ham in the UK. Apart from this, she also started a football academy for underprivileged girls – She Kicks.
In an exclusive interview with The Assam Tribune, the 29-year-old goalkeeper shared her story.
The Assam Tribune: How do you see the next few months of football in India?
Aditi Chauhan: Now India will host the next FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 which is huge. Events like these will not only lift the spirits of the participating girls, but also motivate the players to come. It is great for the overall health of the game and will help football grow in India.
The Assam Tribune: On the SAFF Women’s Championship 2022…
Aditi Chauhan: We still have the same ambition and focus to defend the trophy and put in a solid performance, which we have achieved since the start of this tournament. We have won the previous five editions. It’s the 6th edition, and it’s a big responsibility for all of us to represent the country and defend the championship. We are very focused on that and hopefully we can bring the trophy home.
The Assam Tribune: In recent times, the Indian women’s team has traveled to several countries for friendly matches and exhibition trips. Can you share your experience with this? How has he helped the players?
Aditi Chauhan: The more we play, the better it gets. Everyone wants to be in the middle of the action and play as many games as possible. It prepares us to adapt and play in different conditions and helps us improve our game. Friendly matches and exhibition trips are very important to understand the different aspects that we have to work on. Earlier this year we were in Jordan and played friendlies against Egypt and Jordan. We won both games and it was a good tour.
The Assam Tribune: IWL has a minimum number of foreign players. Do you think more foreign female players can really help Indian female footballers improve?
Aditi Chauhan: Absolutely. Playing with players of different nationalities helps us gain visibility and confidence. There is a lot to learn from their experience, their technique and their style of play. It will only help us to improve our game. But then, IWL is an Indian league, and it is a platform for budding Indian players, and I hope to see more and more Indian and foreign players participating in the league.
The Assam Tribune: How has your association with England helped shape your career? (both as a student and as a player)
Aditi Chauhan: I consider my experience in England studying sports management at Loughborough University to be very unique and a turning point in my life because that is why I had the opportunity to play West Ham. I got the degree I wanted to study and of course it gave me the courage to also pursue to create ‘She Kicks’ when I return to India. Of course, on the pitch too, my time in England at University and then at West Ham helped me improve and improve as a goalkeeper because the style and level of football is very high . So I also had to get to that level, improve very quickly and be able to play at that level and I think that helped me become a better goalkeeper.
The Assam Tribune: Tell me about the She Kicks project…. You started it very young. Who else is helping you with this project? How was the response?
Aditi Chauhan: ‘She Kicks’ is my passion project. Everything I missed growing up, the lack of opportunities, a place to train all year round, guidance and support and when I came back to India I realized that this gap and these things were always missing.
So, I felt it was also my responsibility to do more for the development of women’s football and to try to provide whatever I can and try to bridge that gap a bit. With this in mind, I registered the foundation this year and we funded 30 underprivileged girls and trained them.
The girls recently competed in the Football Delhi Championship League right now in the senior division and I’m really happy I was able to be a part of their journey and help them and give them that platform, they represent the football club’ She Kicks’.
This initiative will always continue and the aim is to bring this platform to more and more girls across the country to practice the sport and hopefully I can take it to many places across India and try to make these young girls’ journey a little easier by sharing my knowledge and experience.
The Assam Tribune: Also, tell me how was your experience in the new role of commentator. Did you like it?
Aditi Chauhan: Commentating was a new experience for me, and I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to commentate the 131st edition of the Durand Cup on Sports18. Obviously it was a very different experience, but I really enjoyed it because it helped me see the game from a very different perspective. When you’re on the court it looks and feels very different, but from the comment box you see the game from a different perspective and understand the game very differently. It felt good to share my experiences on the pitch and then comment on the game. I really hope people enjoyed my work with the microphone.