Aditi Mutatkar, Indian badminton athlete, always remained under the shadows of Saina Nehwal during her playing days. While Saina went on to reach great heights in her career, Aditi failed to live up to her immense potential due to a series of injuries.

Now, Aditi, in her new role, wants to establish herself as a mentor and guide the upcoming talented players of India. Aditi aims to create her own identity in her new field by providing the correct path to the promising athletes with her vast experience and knowledge.

Aditi also holds the distinction of winning five national championships across all age groups. After her retirement in 2014, she concentrated on education and did her Master’s in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas and specialized in Nonprofit Management.

Aditi, who won a silver medal in a mixed team event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, joined Simply Sport Foundation as their team head. She believes she has got a chance to work on issues that are not exactly at the forefront.

“It is difficult to produce champions like Neeraj Chopra. It takes years of hard work and proper support to make champions. We at Simply Sport Foundation, well realize this. The Athlete Launchpad Program (TAL) was thus born out of a wish to do our part in making sports more accessible, more equitable, and ultimately enhance our country’s prospects at global sporting stages,” said Aditi.

The former world No. 27, Aditi wants to share her experiences while grooming the young national talent.

“After retirement I was absolutely focused on getting an education. I did my Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas and specialized in Nonprofit Management. My academic perusal really opened up the world of possibilities for me.

I realized that if I can combine my education and my insights as an athlete and work towards bringing change it could be a very satisfying journey for me. With the Simply Sport Foundation I have got a chance to work on issues that are not exactly on the forefront,” said Aditi.

Being a woman, Aditi knows the problems and struggles any female athlete has to go through in India.

Aditi to help women athletes with her experience and guidance

The former national champion aims to make a difference to the female athletes with her initiative.

“Women sports, menstruation and sports, creating skilling and employment opportunities for retired athletes, supporting grassroots level talent and so much more. As of now it has been a very good learning experience and I hope our initiatives can bring tangible changes in the sports ecosystem,” said Aditi.

Aditi Mutatkar (second from right) and Saina Nehwal (R) were team members for several years
Aditi Mutatkar (second from right) and Saina Nehwal (R) were team members for several years

33-year-old Aditi is confident of balancing the work of her new project as well as coaching the beginners in Pune.

“In terms of balancing coaching and my job it’s extremely tough. I am also a mother to a one and half year old. I feel I am able to do both only and only because of two things, I love what I do in terms of my job and coaching, and I have a family that supports me 100% and believes in the work I am trying to do. Without a strong support system at home none of this would have been possible,” said Aditi.

A runner-up to two BWF Grand Prix tournaments, Aditi is looking forward to the challenge of identifying talented athletes from rural parts of the country.

“The larger aim of the program is to identify state or national level athletes hailing from the grassroots and support them in their quest to excel in their respective sports, qualify to and subsequently represent India,” said Aditi.

The Simply Sports Foundation started in 2020 in Bengaluru. The foundation believes that sports is an enabler with the power to bring change and is an effective tool for the development of the nation.

“Our vision is to enable and support the grassroots sports ecosystem of the country. Our mission is to run and execute sustainable initiatives that can support communities and help athletes achieve excellence through holistic development,” said Aditi.

“Through our initiatives we have impacted more than 500 boys and girls from various sports disciplines. Our areas of impact are mental health, provision of equipment, nutrition consulting, fitness support, financial aid, mentorship and guidance, menstrual hygiene and career development,” said Aditi.

Selected talented junior athletes
Selected talented junior athletes

Following several rounds of tests and qualifications, some of the most talented athletes were selected for the first year of The Athlete Launchpad (TAL).

Saneeth Dayanand, a badminton player from Karnataka who is currently ranked No. 1 in the juniors’ category.

Vaishnavi Veera Vamsam, a sub-junior, decorated national-level sailor from Telangana.

Nehal Gupta, a para-badminton player from Madhya Pradesh who is the current Junior National Champion.

Ankita Dhyani, a track athlete from Uttarakhand who currently holds the junior national record in the 5-km event.

Divya Satija, a swimmer from Haryana, who holds the national record in the 50m butterfly event.

Sandhya Rai, a rugby player from West Bengal and former captain of the Under-18 girls’ team.

Simply Sport Foundation’s Initiatives

Athlete Development Program

Providing interventions to deserving athletes in identified areas to help them excel in their sporting career as well as their career after sports.

1. Athlete Launchpad Program

This program supports grassroots-level athletes with an aim to qualify and represent India.

2. The athlete career development program prepares athletes for their career after sports.

Sports Community Support

Join hands with local communities in supporting sports initiatives and helping sustain long term programs.

Supported communities

  • Jungle Crows Foundation for Rugby
  • Poddatur Sports Community for Athletics and Football
  • INS Sports Center for Football
  • Yacht Club of Hyderabad for Sailing

Women in sports

  • Research and policy framework implementation in the field of women participation in sports in the country.
  • Identify factors and social stigma leading to lesser participation.
  • Help improve the participation of girls in sport.
  • Work closely with policymakers in implementing the change taken on the not-so-talked topic of menstruation and introduce it in the sports coaching curriculum.

Development of Rugby League

Supporting the Rugby League Federation in developing and promoting the sport across the country.

Grassroots development of the sport with efficient scouting

Set up state affiliations and academies, run tournaments and leagues and build a national team for men and women.

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By Mathias

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