Playing sports from an early age of two-and-a-half, so it is no wonder that Adhithi Rajgopal is one of the best youngest emerging football players in India. In various age categories, she has represented Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India football teams and she has also captained a Manipur based football club, the Amma Fc in the International youth soccer tournament, DANA cup held in Denmark in the last two years. the Chennai star recently received the Pothys young achievers award and she shares her journey with CE.
Adhithi started playing sports from gymnastics and athletics, but in class six she changed it to football when her school coach, Kalidasan started a girls football team.
“I was the youngest team member then as the others were at least in Class eight,” she recalls. “He is my godfather…He made me believe in myself.”In the beginning, she admits she was not very interested in football. “I was never able to understand the tactics of the game. I didn’t take special efforts to understand the game either,” she recalls.
Once her team started participating in tournaments and winning them then she started setting up small goals for herself. Her first goal was to be the ‘Best player of the tournament which she achieved the very same year. Adhithi is known for her brilliance in taking free-kicks. In 2015 she took her team into the finals of a tournament by winning almost a draw match with her free-kick. Managing school and captaining a football team is not so easy and Adhithi recalls the time when she was in class 10 and she had to attend the Indian camp for three months so she had no choice rather than missing her classes.
Adhithi says, ”My principal and my friends helped me pass my boards!The journey of a woman football player in a conservative society is definitely a challenge, she points out. “When playing with boys, I have noticed they will have second thoughts about passing the ball to you even if you have a better chance of scoring,” she says.
Adhithi told about another incident when she was playing football with her brother on a local ground and an uncle said ‘a girl wearing shorts and playing football’. “He definitely didn’t mean it in a good way. And that was very weird,” she laughs.
Adithi is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Sports Management at the Cardiff Metropolitan University, Wales. “I wanted to go professional in football, but in India, women’s football does not have much scope. The growth is very slow here,” she rues. “Countries abroad have better infrastructure and players have a better physique. I’m doing weightlifting training to build muscles.”
She got the motivation to purse her dream after getting Young Achievers Award, which is to come back to India and get selected for the senior Nationals team. ”I also want to play for the Chelsea women’s FC one day,” She smiles.