Guwahati, Sept 11: Aditi Chauhan has been the number one goalkeeper for the Indian women's football team for quite some time. The Goa-born goalkeeper is now playing in the SAFF Women's Championship 2022 in Nepal where India is advancing to win their sixth title.
Aditi had associations with Loughborough University and West Ham in the United Kingdom. Apart from that, she has also started a football academy for underprivileged girls – She Kicks.
In an exclusive interview with The Assam Tribune, the 29-year-goalkeeper shared her story.
The Assam Tribune: How do you look forward to the next several months of football in India?
Aditi Chauhan: Now India will host the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022 which is huge. Events like these will boost the morale of not just the girls participating but will also motivate the upcoming players. It is great for the overall health of the game and will help football grow in India.
The Assam Tribune: About the SAFF Women's Championship 2022…
Aditi Chauhan: We still have the same ambition and same focus to defend the trophy and put up a strong performance, which we've been winning ever since this tournament started. We have won all five previous editions. This is the 6th edition, and it is a matter of great responsibility for all of us to be representing the country and defend the championship. We are very focused on that and hopefully, we can bring the trophy back home.
The Assam Tribune: Of late, the Indian women's team has travelled to several countries for friendlies and for exposure trips. Can you share your experience with that? How has it helped the players?
Aditi Chauhan: The more we play, the better it gets. Everybody wants to be amidst 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. The friendlies and exposure trips are very important to understand the various aspects that we need to work on. Earlier this year, we were in Jordan and played friendlies against Egypt and Jordan. We won both the matches and it was a good tour.
The Assam Tribune: IWL has a minimal number of foreign players. Do you think more foreign players can actually help Indian women footballers to improve?
Aditi Chauhan: Definitely. Playing with players from different nationalities helps us get more exposure and confidence. There is a lot to learn from their experience, technique and playing style. It will only help us 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 players from India and abroad participating in the league.
The Assam Tribune: How your association with England has helped in shaping up your career? (both as a student and as a player)
Aditi Chauhan: I consider my experience in England of studying sports management at Loughborough University, very unique, and as a turning point in my life because that was the reason why I got the opportunity to play at West Ham. I got the degree that I wanted to study and of course, that gave me the courage to also pursue to establish 'She Kicks' when I came back to India. Of course, on the field also, my stint in England at the University and then with West Ham helped me improve and get better as a goalkeeper because the style and standard of football is very high. So, I also had to match that standard, improve very quickly and be able to play at that level and I think that has helped me become a better goalkeeper.
The Assam Tribune: Tell me about the She Kicks project…. You started it at a very young age. Who else is helping you with this project? How has been the response?
Aditi Chauhan: 'She Kicks' is my passion project. Everything that I missed out on while growing up, lack of opportunities, a place to train throughout the year, guidance, and support and when I came back to India then I realized that gap and those things were still missing.
So, I felt it is also my responsibility to do more for the development of women's football and try to provide in whatever capacity I can and try to bridge that gap a little bit. With that in mind, I registered the foundation this year and we have been funding 30 underprivileged girls and training them.
The girls recently participated in the Football Delhi Championship League right now in the senior division and I am really happy that I was able to be part of their journey and help them and give them that platform, they are representing 'She Kicks' football club.
This initiative will always carry on and the aim is to bring this platform to more and more girls across the country to play the sport and hopefully I will be able to take it to many places across India and try to make the journey of these young girls a little bit easier through sharing my knowledge and experience.
The Assam Tribune: Also, tell me how was your experience in the new role as a commentator. Did you enjoy it?
Aditi Chauhan: Commentary has been a new experience for me, and I am very happy to have got the opportunity to commentate on 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 are on the field it is a very different look and feel, but from the commentary box you see the game from a different angle and understand the game very differently. It felt good to share my on-field experiences and then be commentating on the match. I really hope people appreciated my work with the microphone.