Founder, She Kicks Football Academy
From afar, it appears to be a game in progress. But it symbolises a revolution. The revolution that India's first woman footballer to play in the English Premier League, Aditi Chauhan, is quietly heralding. "I wanted to provide a platform for women to show the world they can kick. That is how the idea of She Kicks Football Academy came about," says Chauhan.
Empowering women through football, the academy enables women to transform their personalities and learn necessary life skills needed to make it through the challenges they face. Set up with a vision to ensure every girl shows the world that she can "kick" all the prejudices and worries, as well as achieve all goals and ambitions, the academy aims to provide holistic programme for girls to make it as sports professional both on and off the pitch. So far, the academy has trained over 1,000 girls through workshops in schools across the country and counselled over 5,000 girls for a career in football. The academy scouts for football talent through these workshops and nurtures such talent further by providing a holistic ecosystem that focuses on health, nutrition, coaching and participation in several tournaments.
As a player herself, Aditi was well aware of the challenges faced by girls choosing to play the sport. Lack of proper training academies, expensive equipment and proper coaches hinders several aspiring players from smaller cities and villages from following their passion. The academy aims to bridge this gap and bust stereotypes. "I know how transformative football can be for a child's personality. I hope to use this power to learn important life skills that can empower girls to be strong, confident and bold," Chauhan adds.
Women's sport in India is witnessing a steady change. It has transformed from mere participation in the Olympics to winning Olympic medals since 2000. But there is much left to be achieved on a road paved with challenges. Academies like She Kicks serve as training grounds for nurturing talent at grassroots.
Chauhan is grateful to the challenges she has faced in her football journey. She believes those have helped her become the person she is today. "My entrepreneurship journey is akin to football. Just like how as a goalkeeper, I need to read the game and assess the situation and respond accordingly. In entrepreneurship too, there are such unforeseen challenges and to face them, we have to have the problem-solving attitude and constantly figure out ways to move forward," she concludes.