U-17 WC will help spread awareness about women’s football in India: Aditi

Indian woman footballer Aditi Chauhan

Kolkata, (Asian independent) India goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan on Friday said hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup in February-March next year will not only help develop the sport in the country but also blow off the cobwebs in people’s minds regarding women playing football.

India is slated to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup in February-March next year and then host the Asian Cup in 2022.

“We need parents to be more aware about what you can achieve in sport and especially in football. This (the U-17 Women’s World Cup) will address a lot of people’s concerns,” Aditi said during an Instagram Live session on AIFF TV, the All India Football Federation’s official handle.

“We will not only get players from the World Cup who can represent the country in the 2022 Asian Cup but also it will be an eye-opener for parents who think twice before letting their girl child play the sport if she is interested,” said the 27-year old.

“So the World Cup will go a long way in creating awareness in the country.”

Aditi said she still gets messages from budding footballers about their parents discouraging them from playing the sport.

“I still get messages from young footballers saying parents don’t support them in playing football. There is still that stigma. Parents think what will happen playing football,” said Aditi who runs a women’s football academy ‘She Kicks’.

Aditi also said the team is excited to play in the 2022 Women’s Asian Cup which India will host.

Aditi, who became the first player from the India national women’s team to play competitively in England and the first Indian woman to play in English league football when she turned out for West Ham United, also lauded teammate Bala Devi for her exploits in Scotland.

Bala is the first Indian woman footballer to ply trade in a top-flight professional league in Europe. She currently plays for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.

“It’s game changing. It gives you amazing experiences on and off the pitch. For me I know that after the West Ham experience, my game changed a lot. It made me better. Bala has been doing so well and now when she comes back to the national team she will do well, share her experiences with junior players…her experience will matter a lot in shaping youngsters and playing for the team as well.”