NAVNITA GAUTAM

Please tell us something about your history, where did you come from and how did you get to where you are?

 

I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. I've always had a keen interest in sports, injuries, and rehab and I was passionate to see people get back to playing the sport that they love. Moreover, I've also had a keen interest in helping underprivileged children who loved playing sports in India. Almost every year, since I was a little girl, my parents would donate and help kids play sports and teach them basic first aid in rural areas in India. This later inspired me to open up two charities called "Hoops for India" in 2012 in rural areas of Punjab, India. I was also an avid volunteer to get kids playing sports for Strathcona Community Centre which is located at the heart of Downtown Eastside when is the poorest neighborhood in East Vancouver, Canada. I've always loved India and wanted to do something for the athletes here. My dream job was to always work in professional cricket because cricket is a massive religion in India and almost every little boy and girl grew up playing street cricket. Also, I wanted to work mainly with men's cricket in India to break stereotypes because it was rare to see a female support staff working on a men's team. 

Furthermore, I attended Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School followed by Simon Fraser University (SFU) where I was enrolled in General Sciences and then Kinesiology. One day I attended a PACWEST college basketball game where Kwantlen was playing against Camosun College. One player rolled her ankle when going for lay-up during the game and a lovely young lady who was sitting on the Camosun College bench went to go help her out. I was very intrigued with how that lady helped out the athlete and later did I know she was an "Athletic Therapist Certification Candidate". I stopped watching the basketball game and watched and listened to how the athlete was cared for. From then onwards, I really wanted to become an Athletic Therapist. I enrolled in the Bachelor of Athletic and Exercise Therapy (BAET) degree program at Camosun College and from then onwards I started my journey and since then I've never looked back. From year 1 to year 4 at Camosun College has been such an amazing journey! I am what I am because of the BAET program at Camosun College. I would love to thank all my professors, teaching assistants, placement supervisors, classmates, and the amazing Connie Klassen who is the Chair of the Athletic and Exercise program for everything they've done for me.  After BAET, I wanted to follow my dream so I packed my bags and moved to India right after writing the CATA exam. I landed up with a job with India Basketball team during FIBA ASIA Cup in 2017 where India stood first place in Division "B" category which was never been done before! After, I worked in a clinical setting and at a golf academy as an Athletic Therapist for about 1.5 years in Bangalore, India. My bosses and co-workers that I met in Bangalore really shaped me to become the person I am today and I am forever thankful for them. After treating a lot of golfers and cricketers in Bangalore for 1.5 years, I decided to move up north to Chandigarh to be close my family. In Chandigarh, I was again treating mainly cricketers and golfers. Slowly but surely, I got into two amazing leagues such as the GT20 league for the Toronto Nationals team in Toronto, Canada and Indian Premier League (IPL) for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB ) which was a dream come true! Again, I am forever thankful to everyone that has supported me! It wasn't an easy journey but every moment was worth the wait. 

 

What have been the biggest rewards and challenges you had to overcome as a certified AT in India?

The biggest rewards I had overcome as a certified AT in India would be speaking at the IASM - Indian Association of Sports Medicine Conference in India and speaking about Athletic Therapy and what we do as well as getting selected for the Indian Premier League (IPL) part of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team was the most rewarding experience! One of the biggest challenges was introducing Athletic Therapy to the general public and amateur athletes as it is a fairly new profession in India. Athletic therapy has come a long way since I first moved to India in 2017.

 

What opportunities and challenges do you foresee for the future?

I could see more opportunities rising for female physiotherapists, athletic therapists, and massage therapists in sports organizations in the near future. As of now, there will be challenges in the near future but I can't seem to foresee what these challenges might be. My job would be to work hard to the best of my ability in the present and see what the future holds.

 

What are your goals professionally to grow AT in India?

My goals are to develop an Athletic Therapy council/organization in India as well as to develop an institution for Athletic Therapy and Massage Therapy. Also, for those that are pursuing a degree in Athletic Therapy in Canada and United States I would love to develop an exchange/internship program in India. I would love to see Athletic Therapists from all over the world visit India and see the passion and sacrifices that these athletes make to fulfil their dream in playing a sport for their country. Also, every state in India has its own diverse culture and sport which is beautiful to witness and be a part of.   

 

What is your advice for anyone wanting to be a pioneer such as yourself?

My advice would be to make short and long terms goals that you are truly passionate about and commit your full heart to it! As long as you stay hungry and focused towards your goals there is nothing stopping you. There will be failures in life and times that you want quit but remain true to your goals and always remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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