Aditi Chauhan: 'Grassroots need to be worked on'

In a bid to tap into the potential at the grassroots, Aditi has launched her own initiative -- The She Kicks Footballl Academy (SKFA).

Aditi became the first Indian female footballer to play for a professional club in the United Kingdom with West Ham Ladies   -  Twitter @aditi03chauhan

A lot of work needs to be done at grassroots in football, said Indian women’s national team goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, who also doesn’t want to belittle the momentum gained since the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

In 2015, Aditi became the first Indian female footballer to play for a professional club in the United Kingdom but she had to return as her student visa expired.

RELATED | Aditi to lead Delhi in Senior Women’s National Football Championship

The Indian soon made a comeback when Loubourough University, where she was studying, gave her a part-time job, which offered her chance to continue playing for West Ham ladies.

“It (FIFA-U17 World Cup) has bought a lot of awareness. Parents are more approving of football as a profession now. It’s not a hobby anymore. The professionalisation of the game - the ISL and I-League have helped a lot,” Aditi told PTI on the sidelines of a Godrej event.

“The structure is really shaping up and a lot of great initiatives have been started by corporates in women’s football as well. They have started professional leagues for girls that’s something really special. Even the AIFF has started a league. It’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

The AIFF launched the country’s first women’s league - Indian Women’s League (IWL) in 2016 but Aditi feels focus on the grassroot level is essential for football to grow in the country.

“Since I have played abroad and seen how things are there I know although India is moving in the right direction there is still a lot can be done at the grassroots, there is a lot of potential,” Aditi said.

In a bid to tap into the potential at the grassroots, the 25-year-old has launched her own initiative earlier this year -- The She Kicks Footballl Academy (SKFA).

The SKFA is a program that is aimed to empower females by providing a platform to showcase their footballing talent.

“Through this initiative I want to encourage more and more girls to experience the sport and start playing football,” Aditi said.

“We have two age groups under 14 and under 18. Right now we go to different schools taking the sport to the girls. We hold workshops there. We have got a really positive response, which really makes me happy. After the workshop girls who had never played football started playing because they enjoyed themselves,” she said.

Asked about women’s football, Aditi said the team doesn’t receive the kind of attention its male counterparts receive.

“The Indian women’s team is ranked 60th in the world, which is better than the men’s ranking. People tend to forget that. The women’s achievements are not highlighted.

“People need to realise that the women’s team is also doing well. Acknowledging that will help increase the overall growth of football in India,” Aditi added.

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