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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

IWB Juggled Moments With Jyoti Burrett, Striker, National Football Team

  • IWB Post
  •  May 15, 2018

Jyoti Ann Burrett started her journey with juggling a tennis ball and then, a football, and now she is a prominent striker for the Indian Women Football Team, which is placed on number 57th on the FIFA International rankings list.

Jyoti kicked off a high-paying corporate job offer so she could chase her dreams of scoring for India. She is also involved in many initiatives to encourage sports in our country and recently appeared in Nike’s Ad, ‘Da Da Ding‘ to promote women’s sports and health.

Jyoti shared various experiences of her professional and personal life in an exclusive interview with IWB. Excerpts:

Tell us about your school and college days. You were initially playing Squash and Hockey and went on to play for your state in them. Then how did an interest in Football begin?

My interest in football actually began after watching the 2002 World Cup and watching my favourite player Francesco Totti play for Italy. There was something about him, the way he played. It made me want to go outside and pick up a football and just try it!

You pursued Masters in Sport and Health Science from the University of Exeter. But, then you were offered a high-paying corporate job which you let go and decided to be a footballer. Was it difficult? What kept you fixed to your goal of scoring for India?

I don’t think working for any high paying corporate job was ever my idea of success. To me, success was doing something I loved and excelling at it. Very early in life, I understood I had high kinesthetic intelligence, and I wanted to use that to the best I could.

Of course, financially it is still hard to support yourself on a career in football in India. And so,  I also work as a personal trainer in my offseason.

You are known for your football juggling too.  How did that come up? And between what other things do you like juggling your time when you are not playing?

jyoti-4

 

Ever since I saw a Nike ad featuring multiple international footballers juggling, I was in awe of the concept. I just think it’s fascinating.

Initially, I just wanted to be able to do 100 juggles but from there it grew into an obsession. Apart from football, I juggle my time between my job as a personal trainer at ‘Sumaya’ an exclusive personal training studio in Delhi, spending time with my family and friends and going for high altitude treks, which is something I absolutely love.

You are on the National Team. How does that feel?

Surreal. I don’t think it’ll ever sink in completely.

Share some experiences that you had during the National Camp with other players.jyoti-1

The girls are all very friendly despite vast cultural and language differences, as players are from different states. I’ve travelled to almost all over the country and to some countries out of India, too. Each camp has its own set of memories. There have been low points when I’ve felt like giving up, and there have been high points, too, which made me feel so complete and peaceful.

There were times I’ve cried, times I’ve laughed till I couldn’t stand, times I’ve been in form and times when I’ve struggled to believe that I am decent at the game. It’s quite a roller coaster. I’ve made some close friends too.

Women’s Football Team is ranked higher than the men’s team. However, do you think that men are favored more when it comes to sports in terms of the earnings, sponsorships, opportunities, etc.?

Financially maybe, yes, but otherwise things are really changing.

I’ve seen a huge change over the last four years itself. Women’s football is getting attention. The announcement of a league this year reinstates this. This means more playing time and thus, a chance for us to show the world how good we are. Things can only get better. Opportunity will open them up.

How has your family supported you throughout your journey?

My family has been my pillar. They’ve supported me through thick and thin. I would be nowhere without them. The interest they show in my football is unmatched. They’ve always encouraged me to do what made me happy, whether that was being a gardener (something I wanted to be when I was 4! LOL), a bus driver (when I was 6), an animal shelter worker (when I was 8) to being a footballer eventually.

Where do you see yourself in next five years?jyoti-2

I see myself as an experienced senior player of the Indian squad.

You recently appeared in Nike’s empowering ad, ‘Da Da Ding.’ Do you also support any other initiatives to encourage girls to take up sports?

I am currently involved with an NGO called the Kutumb Foundation on a project ‘Pave the way for kids to play’ which raises money for football shoes, clothing, and transport of the underprivileged children in Delhi. (Whoever is reading this please go and contribute! Even Rs 500 will go a long way)

Apart from that, I’m also looking to get on board with an NGO called ‘Just for Kicks’ based in Bangalore which works towards developing football talent from underprivileged schools across the country.

According to you, what’s the biggest challenge a sportswoman has to face, career-wise, and in personal life? How did you overcome them?

The biggest issue I feel is the question of whether you will succeed or not. Sport is an unpredictable career. It might be over in a second with a career ending injury. So, career wise one has to be smart. Not everyone who chooses sport as a career makes it to the top. And, some fall victim to any injury along the way. There needs to be a Plan-B.

Also, I think it’s important to have other passions as well. Sport, although completely enthralling and obsessive, is a short-lived career. The age of 40 is old for a sports person, especially a footballer.

On a personal level, one needs to have other interests and hobbies that will keep them going once they get older. Whether that’s related to their sport, or not is up to them. Coaching, commentary, and management are always available for people who want to stay with their sports post their sporting career. I’ve managed to find other things that keep me happy outside football, too, just for balance.

When will we cheer for the Indian team at the Football World Cup?jyoti-3

*fingers crossed* Soon! 

One message to young girls who aspire to be athletes.

Life is too short to say sometime later, ‘I wish I had given it a shot! There’s no career like it.’ Be bold, change stereotypes, work hard, but most importantly, amidst all the competitive stress, the pain of defeat, the joy of success and struggle to overcome an injury, never forget why you started playing a sport in the first place, the ‘fun’ element, the kick it gives you.

Quick Questions:

Proudest moment of your life?

Scoring my first goal for India

Your biggest football crush?

Francesco Totti 

One heartfelt message from family, friend, or relative on your success that you still cherish the most?

My mother died before I even started playing football. Much later, when I made it to the Indian team for the first time, my father called me and said, “Your mum must be so thrilled and proud of you.”

Any embarrassing moment during any of the games which cracks you up every time you think about it?

I’m a terrible header of the ball. Most of my heading attempts have ended in disaster! People start laughing at the attempt even before it fails.

In personal life, what’s the one thing you get a yellow card for?

My anger. I lose my temper very rarely, but when I do, it isn’t pretty.

What’s the one social issue you would want to show a red card to?

Female infanticide

If you write an autobiography, what title would you give to it?

The magical journey of a girl who chased a football

Photo Source: Cover Photo

Others: Jyoti Burrett Facebook

 

This article was first published on August 4, 2016.

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