Ketaki’s Philosophy: People are amazing and human potential is limitless. You only limit yourselves with your own boundaries. Break free – there are no limits to your possibilities. You can achieve whatever your dreams are, when you put your mind, body and soul in it.
Tell us about what you do…
As an athlete, I am currently one of the probables for the Auckland Women’s Rugby 7s team training alongside some of the best rugby players in the world! I am also training towards the Open CrossFit games and in the past I’ve been a national level judo medalist. In rugby, I have been fortunate enough to represent the Rugby 7s Team India since its inception in 2009 until 2012. I worked as a rugby development officer for the Sri Lanka Rugby union from 2012-2013 developing the sport for girls around the country. I received the rugby 7s developmental scholarship to play the sport in Bay of Plenty, NZ for the 2013 rugby 7s season. I am one of the 10 recipients of the Prime Minister’s New Zealand-India Sports Scholarship 2015, which brought me back to the land of rugby to pursue my second bachelor’s degree in sports coaching and exercise science. I am as passionate about playing as I am about coaching! It’s such an incredible opportunity to inspire and empower others through sport and fitness. I have been grateful to coach CrossFit at ‘Excellence Through Movement (ETM) CrossFit’, which is also my training gym. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to coach some of the most promising and talented young women at the Auckland Girls’ Grammar School’s (AGGS) for their rugby 7s team and they made it to the quarter-finals of the school games this year!
Where did your career begin?
I was raised in a military background; my grandfather, father and uncle were all in the army. I am positive that if I didn’t have my rugby dream, I would have served in the Indian army. My grandfather, a very enigmatic person, was one of the most influential persons in my life. I live by his words of wisdom even today.
My love for sports was encouraged by my mom, unlike most Indians’; she encouraged me to experience all the extra-curricular activities that I wanted to. It was not until I had tried gymnastics, karate, bharatanatyam, athletics, competitive swimming, that I finally set my heart on judo. It was during this time that I used to play football with the boys and decided to join the Khare’s Football and Rugby Academy (KFandRA) to better my skills so that I could play better than the boys! This is where I first experienced rugby. My South African coaches, Surhud and Swapneel Khare brought the sport with them when they moved to India and started KFandRA. I fell in love with the physical aspect of rugby and was delighted to find that I could tackle the players on the ground instead of judo mats!!
What challenges have you faced throughout your career?
After winning a medal at the national games, I had a fall out with the judo coach which majorly impacted my life. I quit all sport and with it, lost my identity. I was on the brink of losing myself on a path of darkness when the timely intervention of my rugby coaches jolted me back. They insisted that I start training for the first ever women’s rugby game that was about to be held. After playing that game, I realised how much I missed training, how much I loved the sport and it was thanks to my coaches that I was able to find my path again. This is why I coach- to make a difference, as my coaches did for me. I went on to play for India after this.
Another shock was the sudden demise of my father in 2012 that stopped the family income, bringing me to a crossroads. I had to make the decision of either following my rugby dreams to Sri Lanka or getting a job. My mother’s support did not waver through her incredible loss and pain- I chose my dreams.
Finances have been one of my main concerns. As the Prime Minister’s scholarship was only for 2015, I have had to fund the rest of my education, my living expenses, and travel/nutrition costs in New Zealand on my own ever since. My mother has taken a loan on our house to help with this. Currently, I am working part-time all weekend, while studying full time during the week, fitting in CrossFit and Auckland 7s rugby training in-between and simultaneously coaching CrossFit classes and coaching rugby at AGGS as well. I start my days at 7 a.m. and finish at 9p.m. I have no rest days.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
Being able to touch hearts, motivate and inspire through my coaching tops the list. It is the most rewarding sensation when you see different personalities come together, become one solid team and play their hearts out for one other! My measure of success is not through my personal achievements but through inspiring others to reach their potential and encouraging them to follow their own dreams.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My grandfather, my mom, my rugby and football coaches, my CrossFit coaches, my friends and family and the lecturers at my university have all inspired me on my journey so far.
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements that reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. It has evolved into the sport of fitness and boasts of having the fittest men/women on earth. The aspect of testing and pushing your body’s limits draws me to the competitive side of the sport. At the age of 28 I got my first ever Muscle Up, I am able to lift 140kg in a deadlift, front squat 75kgs, stand on one arm, climb ropes, perform multiple sets of weighted pull ups, handstand push-ups, run faster, jump higher. . .the list goes on. It is very empowering indeed when you start pushing your limits, smash down your barriers and be the better version of yourself each day – in mind, body and spirit!
What does the future hold for you?
I want to be one of the first Indian CrossFitters to qualify for the CrossFit regionals, while the ultimate goal is the CrossFit Games. I want to explore where my playing potential takes me on the rugby field and I hope to play at the topmost levels. I want to continue developing as a coach and make a difference to people’s lives through CrossFit and
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