Dare to Dream series- Episode 1 : Interviewing Aditi Shetty
2 months of being a content writer for Football Counter and Mumbai FC, I felt it was not enough. I have had this zeal for sports since i was 9 years old. A month ago I interviewed Tim Henman and realised i had a knack of interviewing. So looking at the young football players in the country i felt the need to talk to them motivate them and set up a platform to show their talent and ability to everyone around the world. ‘Dare to Dream’ is my very original series where i will be interviewing local football players and what better than to start with Women, with young girls who have gone out of the way to pursue football. In our very first Episode of ‘Dare to Dream’ we had 16 year old Aditi Shetty from (Dahisar) Mumbai, talking to us about her 8 years as a football player. On how she has managed personal and professional life and her role models who have helped her reach the levels today. One of the stars to watch out for. In the photo you see Aditi Shetty dribble past three players.
Q1) Tell us something about yourself?
A1) Hi, my name is Aditi Shetty and I am 16 years old. I have been playing football from the age of 8. So first it was like I was almost a tom boy and I never liked playing with dolls and I always played with cars. Since I have a twin brother I was habituated to being brought up like that. But my brother played football with his friends and he got irritated if I wanted to play or if I played. I am a hyperactive child from the time I was very small. In school we had football and also in my building the sport that got me excited was football. So like that and then my brother’s stupid behaviour (laughs) encouraged me to play football all the more.
Q2) You started playing football since the age of 8, how was your parents look out towards this?
A2) Actually they have supported me for everything no matter what. There are some parents who don’t understand their kids to that extent and restrict them to certain things. But my parents have never acted like that with me and have let me do whatever I want. Even though I was a tom boy, they never hit me but were always supportive saying, “It’s your life. Do whatever you want.” But when I went out of the way that’s when they came in and guided me. Stopped me from going off-track.
Q3) Which is your preferred position in the team? You mentioned being an aggressive player. What all positions have you played in for the team?
A3) I am a very versatile player. Because when I started playing football I played in the Forward’s position then I moved back to midfield and I stuck there because I have a lot of energy when I play. Tireless running is something which I bring to my team. When you are a midfielder on the flanks, you have to do a lot of running like linking up with the forward line going forward and then having to track back to help out the defence when the opposition is attacking. When you are counter attacking you need a lot of energy to run the entire field so I have always preferred midfield and that depends if its centre, right or left anywhere I can play. So right midfield is very I have played most of the games and the centre mid position is somewhere I can play as well because I have the ability to control the game feeding the ball to the forwards. In the Indian camp, they played me as a defender. Also played a few matches as goalkeeper when needed.
Q4) Your first achievement since you started playing football came at the age of 11 i.e 3 years after you got the zeal to play. It was at the District level. Describe that moment?
A4)It was very exciting and I was nervous at the same time. Whenever I get onto the field I have that nervousness. But with time I overcome it. But this was the time I was very excited because we played U12 and U14 and when you play with players elder to you then you get to learn a lot and the feeling is good. So there is an overall progress.
Q5) Talk us through that moment when you were selected for the Under 14 camp in the Indian team at Kerala?
A5)I was very sad because I didn’t get in. Because when you know you deserve something but you don’t get it, it’s heart-breaking. But I motivated myself and the people around me gave me lots of positive energy and told me not to give up, I had made it among the top 23 players who were selected. That is when I realised that what I had achieved was quite a big thing and others haven’t even reached till there. Some people don’t even get to for camps even though they are good.
Q6) Describe your span you spent in school how were the facilities at the level? How were the coaches impact to your progress at the mere age of 11?
A6)First of all we don’t have a proper ground. We have a concrete ground and that’s the worst thing because we need to get the feel of the studs on grass. And what we have in school is concrete ground with turf so that’s exactly opposite. Because in grass your leg goes down while in concrete it remains still. Even the way the ball bounces on concrete or grass or mud is so very different. But we were quick to adapt to these conditions and we kept winning. So our coaches recognized that and then the type of ground did not matter.We started coming regularly for practices from Monday to Friday and then we had to rush to school. So all the attention was very good better than what many people get. So I was very satisfied by that.
Q7)All throughout your journey who has been your role model both in your personal as well as professional life?
A7)It has never been stuck to one person. It keeps changing and that person is always there in my mind. I think of my mom, she has done a lot for me from the time I have started playing football until now she has spent a lot of whatever I required. Some parents tell their kids to give up on playing. In 10th std, I had my India camp and I was away from home for 3 months. Still my mom supported me and I coped up managing to get 88.4%. After every India camp I have cried as to how I will cope up. But my mom and my dad have always been positive, supportive and helped me over the line. Second is my coach Sir Luke Rosario, he has always supported us in our professional career. We get a lot of offers from clubs he tell us what to do and what not to do. When you change clubs your impression amongst the people changes. So he has guided us well teaching us how to communicate with people who get those offers for us and how not to become complacent. Luke sir has always told us to be a down to earth person. Then there is Dominic Sir who has been there with since I was in 7th He was with me from the time I went to India camp. When I started going to Maharashtra camp that is when I got the best coach of my life. Durva mam has been the best coach I ever had, she has never shouted on us. And all of my previous coaches are very attached to me. Sometimes you get attached to your coaches, she’s almost getting there. She is my idol because she taken up football as a living. She’s a coach and that’s how she has earned her living because in India it becomes tough to earn a living through football. So in my professional career, I look up to her because when I think of myself whether pursuing football will help me earn a living I think of her. And to be honest she has been a major presence in my life, in my professional life to be honest.
Q8) How has criticism from the people impacted you footballing journey all throughout these 8 years?
A8)People know what levels I have reached and those people don’t have the guts to say something to my face. They have never told anything to my mom as well. Because when my mom looks back she can proudly say that my daughter managed to excel both in her studies and her professional football career and has balanced it quite well. Also my mom told me not to think about what others say because you are not doing it for someone else nor are those people doing something for you. You have to live your own life
Q9) Aditi, you have won three consecutive MSSA titles in your school career? Tell us more about those three glorious years?
A9)Nothing in life is easy but when you work hard and when you believe in yourself it becomes all the more possible. So in the 1st year we had better training sessions, better coaches and we felt like working hard and then we won our first title But the next 2 years we won one was U14 and the other U16 , our team was the most dominant. I am not even boasting but every team used to be scared of us. There was Dhirubai Ambani side, we always had to meet them in the finals so both our teams were so fierce while playing and it was a neck to neck competition. We knew that we had won the title before and that our opponents also had a clue of it so winning it for the first time was an advantage for us. The three consecutive titles have been an amazing achievement for the entire team,
Q10) Coming very close to getting into the Indian team i.e Under-14 camp in 2011 and U-16 camp in 2013 only to be in the reserves. Tell us how you stop yourself from demotivated at this point of time?
A10)So during the U14 camp if they had taken 23 players, I would be in but then they took only 18 so I was on standby. And the recent camp they took 23 but I was in the top 27 so again standby. So I missed by some margins. Both the camps I have gone to, I have learnt a lot. In fact the closer I was in U14 the more closer I came in U16. I can guarantee that if they selected 23 players, I would have been number 24. So all I told myself is not look at anyone on the field. Don’t see who the coach is putting in instead of you. All those negative points are harmful for the overall progress. So you have to be positive all the time. I used to tell myself not to be nervous and give my 100%. But then the change I have seen in those years has been spectacular. And I have never let myself to get demotivated.
Q11) We had an interview with coach Durva Vahia mam. She has set the standard for the Women’s game and is an inspiration to many young girls and women pursuing football. Describe her impact on your football career?
A11) We had our last match against Jharkhand and we played total 5 matches and I didnt play any of those five matches in the starting 11 and I totally respect her for that. Sometimes you feel you deserve it more but then the coach knows whom to put in and whom not to put it. So i was thinking this is the last match and she still has not started me what has gone wrong?.And after the team went in to play she told me that i am a smart player and I want you to go in and change the game when needed. So thats when you know what the person thinks about you. She lifted me up and i had that confidence again. See I told you i get nrevous during the start of the game and if you dont go in you get more nervous and then that gets you standard of playing more down unknowingly. She always told us that we were quick to adapt to all the things she taught. And that one moment where she called me a smart player is one of the best moments with her. She has always motivated us no matter what the circumstances are. Durva mam is a motivation not only to me but also for all the team members because everyone has expressed their gratitude for her encouragement in reaching that level in their career/ Everyone is really happy we got a coach like her and she is the perfect person for any player o have by their sides
Q12) Do you see Women’s football coming up in India? But first in Mumbai as well?
A12)Yes, it is coming up. When you play for clubs, you also have private tournaments as well. In school we have three tournaments. MSSA and DSO are the major two. If we win and get to that level we play for city level then district level. If we reach the top at district level we get into the state team. If you get to the state team our coach told us they could push 5-6 players for selections. The goood thing is you know you have worked hard, practised daily, dreamt of it and they finally achieved it. So the more the number of tournaments, the more competition there will be and that’s how Women’s football will come up more.
Q13) Describe your training sessions? How do you maintain your fitness? And also tell us how do you balance your studies as well as football practise?
A13) In early 10th standard days I practised daily. After that I used to study at night. The breaks I took were breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am a couch potato and I have to watch TV (laughs). When I had my 10th boards I did not go to practise and this was my daily schedule. Almost 4-5 months I could not go because I knew I had missed those months because of India camp and had to cope up. So I sat at home and managed all of this. In 11th std I have practised every day. It’s a bit chilled out and you can pass studying one day before the exam as well. So now I practise every morning for an hour, comeback and eat. Then go to college, after coming back home I go down for a walk to get some fresh air. So that’s how my entire day goes. On weekends I go to these private club training. Dominic sir conducts them. So 1 week to Dominic Sir’s practise sessions and 1 week in IFS. If you realise I have practised everyday. Since we have our sports starting, Sir has told us to get some rest because you cannot continuously practise, your body needs rest to get rejuvenated again.
Q14 ) Do you follow international Women’s football regularly?
A14) No, to be honest I don’t follow them regularly. Because most of the times you are not aware of the women’s fixtures. But I watch the Barclays Premier League games. And the finals I came to know after the match was over when USA won against Japan. So all that I try to know from the apps that we have these days on our phones. That’s it.
Q15) Where do you see yourself in the next 2-3 years?
A15) I think I have to train everyday to see myself at a better position. This year in May we have our India camp and if I keep working hard I will get to that level. In 2 or 3 years I will be a much better player and play for the Indian side.
Q16) How has the responsibility of a captain impacted your game that too at a very young age?
A16) I have been a captain in my school team. So let me tell you when you are a normal player and you are not a captain you are very friendly to your team mates. But when you are a captain you cannot fool around. How I talk to my very good friend Caren when I am off the field, we keep doing foolish things. But when I am a captain I will talk to her the same way I’l talk to everyone. First thing is that you treat everyone equally and you when you look at their flaws, one cannot tell them not to do this or that. Because you are the leader, you cannot poke your team mates constantly with their mistakes. And sometimes even I made mistakes, but then I realised them and apologised instantly because the other players are looking up to me. For example if I am the captain, I make some mistake ten times the other will mock me saying, “You’re the captain, your making these mistakes so why are you telling us.” You have to raise your awareness of playing well even when you are not a captain you have to play with 100% so that others around you are looking up to you be it the younger players or the elders. So being a captain has made me realise I cannot fool around and must take the responsibility to lead from the front.
Q17) If Aditi Shetty is not a footballer, then which sport would she pursue?
A17)I think probably Badminton. Because badminton is something I love to play. We never got the chance to play Badminton at school level. So if I had that opportunity at school level, I would definitely pursue Badminton if not Football.
Q18) What is your message for the little girls (little Aditi Shetty’s) wanting to pursue football?
A18) First of all I would like to tell their parents, like Durva mam as mentioned in her interview that parents always send their kids for Sports just as a hobby and when they reach 9th or 10th they stop it because they have to manage their studies. They stop sending them to camps. Many people don’t send their kids to selections. So for the parents all I want to say is allow you children to grow because of Sports as much as he/she can. When I get support from my parents I get motivated to play. So parents need to motivate their children to play so that it helps them reach the desired levels. For the little girls I want to say that they have to work hard. Football is very important and it has made me punctual compared to my other friends. Also it has made me disciplined like I don’t throw my clothes anywhere. So work hard, pursue atleast one sport because it makes you punctual, you learn the value of time and the discipline factor is incorporated. That’s how it helps.
Q19) What would you like to tell the readers, reading this interview on the ‘Dare to Dream’ series?
A19) I am very happy that Durva mam has given my name. I was feeling very inspired when I was reading her interview. So now when someone reads my interview even they might feel inspired. So this series is lifting me up. I am very happy that you people have taken this initiative. Not many sites do this. Any site you see has boys thing coming up. You literally have to type Maharashtra girls then something comes up. The media helps a lot to spread awareness and now even the parents will know that this thing is happening for girls. This is helping us a lot and I would like to thank you all a lot.
Everyone at Football Counter salutes the efforts put in by Aditi Shetty to pursue what she loves. Very few follow their heart. We wish you all the best for all your ventures in future and hope this time you surely get into the Indian team
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