Mumbai footballer Aditi Pandire takes top flight

Updated: Sep 26, 2019, 07:38 IST | Sundari Iyer |

Young Aditi Pandire grateful to dad Milind as she is picked for maiden football tour to UK; group of four to train at QPR

Aditi Pandire of Educo Sai Baba Path Municipal Public School (Parel) during a practice session at the Cooperage Ground in Colaba as part of the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge yesterday. Pics/Atul Kmable
Aditi Pandire of Educo Sai Baba Path Municipal Public School (Parel) during a practice session at the Cooperage Ground in Colaba as part of the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge yesterday. Pics/Atul Kmable

City footballer Aditi Pandire, 13, one of four kids selected to train at London-based Queens Park Rangers Football Club's youth academy for a fortnight. Thanks to the South Mumbai Junior Soccer Challenge, an initiative by politician Milind Deora, Aditi hopes to inspire other girls to follow their dreams against all odds. The daughter of a cab driver, Aditi is grateful to her parents for supporting her football dream. "This is the first time I will be travelling abroad and it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my parents [Milind and Alisha]."

Sagar Rathod during a practice session at the Cooperage yesterday
Sagar Rathod during a practice session at the Cooperage yesterday

"I hear so many stories where girls face opposition from their parents as they try to pursue their dreams, be it sports or any other field. But my parents are different. They have always been supportive and are proud to see me striving to fulfill my dream of being a footballer," Aditi, a Class VIII student of the Educo Sai Baba Path Municipal Public School (Parel), told mid-day yesterday. Meanwhile, Aditi's father, Milind, said it's time that the society changes its perspective towards girls and women at large. "I am a proud father today because my daughter is the first person in my family to travel abroad and that too at such a young age. I second her views that women must be given equal freedom as men to pursue their passion. "We live in a chawl near Parel village and the entire neighbourhood celebrated when Aditi got selected for this UK trip. I feel extremely proud to be recognised as Aditi's father. If my daughter can inspire even one girl from our neighbourhood, I will feel it's mission accomplished," said Milind.

Nishka Prakash and Yohaanne
Nishka Prakash and Yohaanne

Meanwhile, striker Sagar Rathod (13), a resident of the Ambedkar Nagar slums in Colaba, hopes to take his father, Gopal, a gardener, abroad some day. "My father was a construction worker earlier and is now a mali [gardener] at the Cricket Club of India. He works very hard to ensure we do not end up having to struggle in life like him. I hope one day I can afford to take him abroad," said Sagar of Colaba Municipal School. The other two selected to train in the UK are Yohaanne Poonawala (Bombay International, Babulnath) and Nishka Prakash (Edubridge International, Grant Road).

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