India’s first woman in football, meet Aditi Chauhan
When it comes to international sports, women of India are finally beginning to arrive. Football, in particular, is growing to be the second most popular sport in India, after cricket.
Aditi Chauhan is India’s first entry to the English football club West Ham United Ladies. At 22, she has already made her presence felt on the world map, being the first Indian woman to get signed by a top English club for a goalkeeper. [Feature Image by Zee]
Before her bigger break, Chauhan had represented India for various competitions in the under-19 and Indian national teams. She was also captain to the Indian team that won at the South Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship in 2012 in Sri Lanka. She was also the first- choice goalkeeper at the Asian Games held in South Korea in 2014.
Contrary to what many might know and believe, football is one of those sports where the women’s team is ranked higher than its male counterpart.
Chauhan was interested in the sport since her very young days. She was a great athlete in school and it was because of the motivation and support of her sports coach at school, that she got her first big opportunity in the under-19 state team at an early age of 15.
She doesn’t fail to acknowledge the fact that even up until a few years ago, women were not (in, many parts of the country, they still are not) allowed to actively participate in sports. Sports has always been considered a man’s domain.
But with Chauhan, her grandmother had also been an athlete and knew exactly how it felt to be restrained not because people think you are any less capable, but because society doesn’t find it acceptable for a woman to venture into a certain territory that belongs to men. Hence came her support, which eventually led to an international recognition for her fine skills.
What’s most heart-breaking in this entire affair is the fact that India is unable to retain such talented sportswomen on its payroll. Chauhan grew up and was educated in India. Even her abilities were sharpened by an Indian. But yet, she made an apparently smarter career choice by moving her loyalties to a place where her passion had a fruitful future.
Aditi agrees that there is also a lack of media support for women’s sports in the country. According to Chauhan, the events that they participate in are never covered, while many of the neighbouring countries have websites dedic
ated to promoting the sports events that women participate in.
Another big problem faced by female sportspersons in India is their lack of access to talented international coaches. She also agrees that Indian women sports in blooming with talent, we just need to bridge the gap between the players and the resources that they need in order to shine on the globe.
There are also no clubs or I-leagues for women sports, which is another roadblock in popularizing the idea amongst women and young girls.
Across the world, on an average, news about women’s sports continues to range between 5-15% of the total news represented. It is high time that we acknowledge women’s space in sports and create a pool of resources which can catalyze the entry of women into the domain of sports, as well.