Mindset change needed to see more Indian women in sport: Aditi Ashok
The Indian golfer feels the prospect of sport as a career needs to be emphasized at the grassroots level.
Aditi Ashok knows a thing or two about breaking barriers.
She is the first woman from India to play golf at the Olympics (Rio 2016), win Ladies European Tour titles (3) and now a regular on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.
At just 22 years old, Aditi Ashok has already played 15 Majors, golf’s most prestigious tournaments outside of the Olympics, with her latest appearance being last week’s Women’s British Open
The Open held extra significance as it was for the first time three Indian golfers – Aditi Ashok, Diksha Dagar and Tvesa Malik - teed off at a women’s Major.
Clearly, thanks in no small part to Ashok's trailblazing efforts, the women's game in India is reaching new heights for India.
But is it enough to change attitudes in the country?
Aditi feels that there needs to be a change in mentality from the ground up to ensure more Indian women are visible in global sport.
“I feel there are two things to overcome for women to play sports. One, it needs to be looked at as a viable career option,” Aditi Ashok told Firstpost in an interview. “People need to know that you can play sports and also make that your job.
“Second, we need to understand that a woman's place is not just in the house. They should be brought up with the thought that they can do whatever they want – play sport, study or work, it does not matter.
“It's like a deep-rooted thought that needs to change, and that mindset should be encouraged from the grassroots level,” Aditi added.
Aditi Ashok herself was fortunate to have a family who supported her endeavour to become a professional golfer. In fact, Aditi’s father Ashok Gudlamani, also occasionally caddies for her.
Aditi’s performances on the biggest stage have certainly done their bit to encourage more women into golf.
“It is a long-term project but we need to begin identifying talent from the grassroots and nurture them,” said Aditi. “We need thousands to try and then hundreds to take it seriously. And then 10 of those might become world-class.”
“South Korea became a dominant force in women’s golf after Pak Se-Ri won the US Women’s Open in 1998. It gave the belief to female golfers there. I dream of making it happen in India someday,” stated Aditi.
Ashok's achievements will see her receive the prestigious Arjuna Award on August 29th, India's National Sports Day.
The Indian will be hoping she can celebrate in style with a good performance at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship which tees off on Friday.