Nothing can shake the spirit a sportswoman who is determined to make it big, especially when she has all the weapons in her armoury to excel at the highest level. FollowYourSport spoke to one such determined Indian woman who has recently taken the footballing world by storm – West Ham United Ladies FC goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan. In an exclusive conversation with FYS, Aditi talks about her journey as a Hammer and the grit it took to save 3 penalties in her first game back as the goalkeeper for her club.
It’s a great feeling to be playing on this side of the world again. I am very happy to have started against Swindon and it has let me ease into the squad. With a win in an important cup game, I feel more prepared to go up against the big guns in the league. I am having a good year, and after winning the SAFF championship in Indian colours and the Futsal tournament in Maldives, being able to play here is the best thing that could have happened to me.
We have a new manager here at West Ham, under whom Brighton won the league last season. Plus there are a lot of fresh faces in the team this season, so we are excited to do bigger things. Even though we have had a slow start, it is definitely a promising season for us.
This season is going to be rigorous, especially because we are still getting used to Sean’s style of football. It’s a lot more active, more passing lot of teamwork, and he plays at the back a lot which keeps me active. We are training with more intensity as compared to last season and he requires greater fitness levels from us and we are all doing our best to do more on the field and in training.
I can speak for myself and I am loving his attitude towards football and training. Sean is very relaxed before the games and we even destress with some locker room games before going on the field. It is not all about football, and he gives us our space to prepare for the game and there is no added pressure – which is very important for someone like me, who is always stressed anyway!
As a team, we are practising twice a week and with added routines from Sean, we have to be careful to not wear ourselves out before games. I have a very elaborate schedule for off days designed by the team physio. He is helping me enhance my agility and jump. I generally have a review session with him every 2 weeks to take up progress and alter my schedule if need be. I tend to relax a day before the game, with some stretching and basic training, that way I stay active and still am able to give a 100% on match day.
It felt like everything I was training for this season had come down to that one game, and ironically it was still my first game. I was prepared for it, but there was no pressure from the manager and my goalkeeping coach. They were very supportive and convinced me that whatever saves I made was just going to be a bonus. Once that pressure was off, I performed much better than I thought I would. Saving a penalty requires all the training of a GK to come together in one moment.
And that is exactly what happened as Aditi stepped onto the goal line for West Ham United Ladies FC against Swindon Town. A natural right-hander, Aditi dove to her left to save the first penalty. The third one was saved to her right and the all crucial 5th penalty save was a sight to behold. Leaping left, Aditi flicked the ball over the crossbar and won the game for West Ham United. Aditi and West Ham take on Charlton Ladies next in an all-important league encounter on 2nd October.
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