Lockdown diaries: Aditi, Ashalata turn training buddies in Bengaluru

After finishing IWL 2020, India players Aditi Chauhan and Loitongbam Ashalata Devi planned a two-to-three-week stay in Bengaluru to work on their fitness.

Aditi Chauhan (right) and Loitongbam Ashalata Devi: Indian national team players and training buddies.

Aditi Chauhan (right) and Loitongbam Ashalata Devi: Indian national team players and training buddies.   -  @ashalatadeviofficial/Instagram; @aditichauhan_official/Instagram

Indian national team players Aditi Chauhan and Loitongbam Ashalata Devi have turned training buddies in Bengaluru, amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

After finishing the Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2020 season, in which goalkeeper Aditi lifted the trophy with Gokulam Kerala, the duo planned a two-to-three-week stay in Bengaluru to work on their fitness. Since March 10, Aditi and Ashalata have been training with Dipali Pandey, a physiotherapist whom they had worked with, in the national team set-up.

Although the two players had planned to train at Dipali’s Peak Performance sports rehab clinic only for a few weeks, they have been forced to extend their stay as the lockdown was pushed further until May 3.

(Video credit: Special Arrangement)

Indoor training becomes routine

Staying in a room across their trainer’s apartment, Aditi has been focusing on her rehab as she recovers from a minor ankle injury, while Ashalata has been working on her strength and conditioning.

“For now, we are focusing on basic overall fitness and thus following the same workout routine,” Aditi told Sportstar. “Initially, we would have two sessions: a core session of half-hour in the morning, followed by a strength and conditioning session of 1 to 1.5 hours in the evening, focusing on weight-training, strength and agility.”

“We did this for two to three weeks, but since last week we have cut it short to one session per day. Prior to the sessions, we spend close to 30 to 45 minutes on our warm-up and mobility drills,” she added.

Asha and Aditi are training indoors, with some sessions carried out on the terrace of their place of stay. In the absence of access to gyms, Aditi believes they are “using time effectively with limited resources”.

Some learning, some unwinding during lockdown

Apart from taking care of her physical well-being, Aditi is keeping her mind busy, re-reading tennis ace Rafael Nadal’s autobiography Rafa: My Story. In addition to this, Aditi has taken up an online course.

“I am doing an online entrepreneurship course for my academy SheKicks FA,” she said. “I have studied Sports Management but I don’t have a business background. Since I have stepped into this industry, I want to acquire the right knowledge and skill set for running it.”

Based in New Delhi, SheKicks FA is a female-centric football academy founded by Aditi.

 

When not training, cleaning the house or cooking meals, Aditi and Ashalata sit down for movies or a few episodes of web series. Currently, they are excited about the second season of Amazon Prime’s Four More Shots Please!. Ashalata also occasionally indulges in Manipuri movies.

Aditi and Asha have been staying together for over a month now. But it was not so long ago that they were pitted against each other. In February, Ashalata’s Sethu FC played against Aditi’s Gokulam Kerala in the semifinals. Ashalata, who captained 2019 champion Sethu, recalled the 3-0 loss as they shared a laugh together on the telephonic interaction.

“Of course, the loss felt a bit bad,” Ashalata said. “A bit?”, Aditi questioned as she added,"She didn’t talk to me then!"

Explaining the reason for the side's exit, Asha elaborated: “My team had a lot of young players, there were barely three to four senior team players. The younger players were participants of the U-17 Khelo India tournament. I did have some trouble managing the team and knew that having big expectations wouldn’t be possible but the young girls put in a lot of effort to reach the semifinals.”

Women’s football at risk due to suspension

Women footballers in India were fortunate to play out the IWL season before the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill. But globally, such was not the fate of woman athletes as leagues and events were cancelled or postponed.

The pandemic, according to global players union FIFPro, presents “an almost existential threat” to women’s football in particular.

READ | Coronavirus: Women's football faces "almost existential threat"

Highlighting the financial implications of the suspension, FIFPro warns that women's football -- despite recent growth -- is particularly vulnerable, with less established professional leagues, lower salaries and less investment meaning “the fragility of the women's football eco-system is exposed by the current situation”.

Aditi believes the women’s game is likely to bear the brunt of the fallout. “Women’s football globally could be adversely affected financially. The stride that we had made in the interest and awareness of the women’s game could take a hit. We might have to go back a few steps and start the journey again.”

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