Why is India goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan not playing in the Senior Women’s Football Championship?

Aditi Chauhan was not considered for selection by Delhi as she didn’t attend the preparatory camp ahead of the tournament. The national team goalkeeper had a UNESCO event to attend and had already informed Football Delhi about the same.

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Aditi Chauhan (1) was not included in Delhi state team because of her absence at the training sessions.

 

On Wednesday, September 11, Delhi lost 4-1 to Himachal Pradesh in its opening match of the Hero Senior Women’s Football Championship, which is underway in Arunachal Pradesh.

Coached by Keshav Dutt, Delhi is without the services of goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, a member of the Indian women’s national team.

Aditi’s exclusion from the Delhi team came as shock to her, as the former West Ham United Ladies player took to Twitter to express her agony. “Politics in sports is beyond me,” she wrote.

According to Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran and team head coach Keshav Dutt, Aditi was dropped due to her absence from the preparatory camp.

After completing her national duties in Uzbekistan, where the Indian women lost one and drew another game, Aditi travelled to Seoul for the UNESCO Sport and the SDG Youth Funshop, held between September 5 and 8. She missed the training sessions ahead of the tournament, with the Delhi state team leaving for Pasighat on September 6.

Aditi had taken clearance from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to depart from Uzbekistan a day before the rest of the team, on September 3.

“The Delhi state camp had begun already when I was training with the Indian team before we left for the Uzbekistan friendlies. Later, we had a ten-day break from the national team before we could gather again to train for the Uzbekistan trip,” she told Sportstar.

“Since the Delhi camp was going on, I thought I would inform the head coach and authorities about the ten days off for recovery. I met Benny Joseph to inform him about my situation. He told me it wouldn’t be an issue and made me sign a registration form (for the tournament),” she said.

Benny Joseph is an executive member of Football Delhi and was the convener of the Delhi state women’s team.

“I had asked him if I would have to write an email, but Benny Sir said that it wouldn’t be required as I had informed him personally. However, later, when I had joined the national team camp, [Delhi player] Jyoti (Ann Burrett) told me that they (Football Delhi officials) have asked me to drop an email,” she said. “I wrote to them and received a reply only on the day of the team announcement, which is when I got to know I wasn’t included.”

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The mail sent by Aditi Chauhan to Football Delhi.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

 

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Football Delhi's reply to Aditi Chauhan's mail.   -  SPEICAL ARRANGEMENT

 

 

Shaji Prabhakaran, President of Delhi FA, however, claimed there was no official communication from her. “She didn’t approach officially. If I would have been in her position, I wouldn’t have gone to South Korea if that (senior nationals) was a priority,” he said.

He further added that her exclusion was because of her absence at the training sessions as it would be unfair to the rest of the team members. “The girls had been training for forty days, and if someone suddenly tells them that although you have worked hard, you can’t be in the team - that would be unfair. If the situation was that she was present for even one training session, that would’ve been enough to convince the team (about her inclusion).

“We have only two goalkeepers, and with her directly coming to the tournament and playing, it would discourage the other goalkeepers.”

Prabhakaran said that “the team spirit would be broken” if Aditi had been chosen in place of a youngster who took part in the practice sessions. “Aditi is anyway in the national team and if a youngster gets an opportunity (in her absence), I told her that would be good, in fact,” he added.

Aditi, though, seemed unconvinced. “I am still a player, I am still competing. In India, we (women footballers) only have a few matches to play, and it is not a case that if I don’t play a couple of matches, it wouldn’t matter. It does.

“We (women) players have a small career and even lesser opportunities to play,” she said.

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Benny Joseph, to whom Aditi had notified about her absence, said Aditi’s exclusion is due to internal issues in the Delhi football association. “This is thoroughly an ego problem with the other committee members,” he said. “They are saying she had not reported to the camp or registered herself. She did speak to me and the head coach while she visited the ground and had also sent an email to Football Delhi.

“She was the captain of the team and the senior-most player. When she is already in the Indian national team, why would you want (more) practice? She is fit, has been in India playing XI and is ready to give her services to Delhi too. So, what’s the matter? She even agreed to bear the flight costs (from South Korea to India). And, she was going for an official event. We need to think about her future too,” he added.

“Sad and disappointed” at the state of affairs, Aditi accused Delhi FA of internal politics. Coach Keshav Dutt denied the allegations. “Politics? - Why would anyone do politics?” he said. “Our lives revolve around these children (players). We always want the best players to be there (in the team). There are just certain rules made by the association, there is no politics involved here. Aditi has been doing good and we are proud of her. There is nothing against her.”