Interview: A special insight into the life of Women’s Premier League and Indian International Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan

Interview: A special insight into the life of Women’s Premier League and Indian International Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan
Nov 8, 2016

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The first Indian international female footballer to play in England, Aditi Chauhan is an athlete who has taken great risks to progress to an impressive level at a young age.

Before ending up at West Ham United Ladies F.C, Chauhan grew up in Delhi, India. She moved to the United Kingdom in 2014, originally for the purpose of pursuing a Masters degree in Sports Management at Loughborough University. Chauhan has since been noticed by West Ham United, and joined the club in August 2015 – although it has not been an easy road for her.

I was lucky enough to personally interview Chauhan and discover more about her interesting journey.

Aditi Chauhan in her official 2015-16 West Ham Ladies F.C photo

Aditi Chauhan in her official 2015-16 West Ham Ladies F.C photo

Aditi, how did you get the opportunity to join West Ham Ladies, considering you grew up in India?

“Last year when I graduated, I got a sport internship in London and played for the Loughborough University football team. I wanted to continue playing whilst studying, and I was looking for opportunities in London to play football competitively and I discovered West Ham Ladies.”

“I played for them last season until January this year, but my visa did not allow me to stay in the UK. The visa expired and I had to go back, but then I returned in August this year. I am now working for Loughborough University in order to get my work visa and continue back in England with West Ham.”

When you were forced back to India, did you continue to play competitive football?

“I was training but we don’t have leagues in India so I could not play competitively, but I did eventually play for Delhi.”

There was recent criticism aimed at West Ham United F.C – some were saying the club aren’t giving as much as they could to West Ham Ladies, in terms of funding. For example, there were reports that the West Ham Men’s team would not allow the Ladies’ team to use the gym. Is this true?

“It is not as bad as the media portrayed – but yes, there were some issues. The Ladies team weren’t officially part of the Men’s club but they worked very closely together. However, there were some boundaries between the two organisations.”

“But now, we have fully integrated into the Men’s club and it has been a great move for the players and everyone associated with the Ladies team. It feels a lot more professional. We now have facilities and experiences which we have never had before, it is much better and the Men’s club have supported us massively.”

“They (West Ham United) invited us to the Olympic Stadium at one of the club’s matches a couple of weeks ago, and introduced the Ladies team to the crowd at half-time on the pitch. We have also been provided the facilities at Chadwell Heath training ground, so there is great potential and progress from West Ham supporting the Ladies’ team.”

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Do you follow the West Ham United Men’s team in the Barclays Premier League?

“I’m not a big fan of the club, but of course I do feel a little more inclined to West Ham now that I am part of the team.”

You are only 23, therefore as a goalkeeper you have many years ahead of you. What are your future plans?

“I do want to continue playing football, and that was one of the biggest reasons why I came to the UK. I knew I wanted to be a football player, however I didn’t have many opportunities to accomplish this in India.”

“In the future, I would love to play in a higher division – if not in England then I would look abroad in other countries. The idea is to keep pushing myself and achieve higher, but mainly continue playing the sport for as long as I can.”

You wish to continue playing football for many years, does this mean remaining at West Ham United or looking elsewhere?

“I would love to stay in England and play a part in the progress of West Ham United, however if this was not possible I would look to play in other countries.”

For those who do not follow the team, how has this season been so far for West Ham Ladies?

“We have new management, plus a few players have joined this season. However, it has not been a great start for us, but we are still progressing very well. It is going to take some time to be consistent and obtain better results, but we are definitely heading in the right direction.”

Chauhan returning to action in a Women's Premier League Southern Division game for West Ham Ladies F.C

Chauhan returning to action in a Women’s Premier League Southern Division game for West Ham Ladies F.C

You were the first player from the Indian Women’s National Team to play competitively in England. As you were the first, moving to the UK must have been a risk for you, because you did not know what to expect. Was it a big decision coming to England?

“The main reason for me to move to England was because I wanted to have a career in sports, even after I retire from football. The main objective was to do my Masters – but obviously I wanted to keep playing so I ensured I got a place at a university with a football team, so I could keep playing along with my studies.”

“But now, my thoughts have changed and I am focusing mainly on football. Obviously I have my degree and I am working Loughborough University, so I am trying to manage both football and education, however if I can get a professional contract then I would love to play full-time so I can concentrate on football and get better.”

You also spoke to West Ham United F.C Chairman David Gold at the Boleyn Ground – what was said in that conversation? 

“He was acknowledging the fact that I have come from India to play in England. He welcomes me to the club and wished me good luck for the rest of the season.”

When you were younger, you played basketball before football. Did you consider basketball originally as a career option?

“In Delhi, I played a lot of sports before I started playing football. I was involved in martial arts, specifically karate, and then I also did athletics. I moved onto basketball, and finally football. I used to play football in the park with my friends, but I first competitively played for my state, Delhi, in ninth grade.”

“Since then, I came to realise I loved the sport and it helped me express myself in a better way. I ditched the other sports and concentrated on football. I had a conversation with my sports teacher, who recommended that I should try to play as a goalkeeper, because of my catching skills in basketball – he was the one who advised me to play competitively for Delhi.”

“My dad wanted me to take up an individual sport such as tennis, and I went to a few sessions but I didn’t enjoy it as much as football. When I played for Delhi, my family realised I had potential for the sport and they fully supported me.”

From Delhi to London.

Aditi Chauhan was the first ever recipient of the Asian Women Footballer of the Year Award

From The Stands wish Aditi the best for her future, and wish her good luck for the rest of the season. We also would like to thank her for taking the time and effort to construct an interview with us, she was a great speaker and demonstrated her full commitment and passion to football.

  1. Avatar
    Shivani says:

    Good to see you people acknowledging Aditi’s efforts. Keep it up.

  2. Avatar
    Av chauhan says:

    Iam very happy that aditi is doing well.your encouragement is commendable.

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