Radha Gupta has paved her own path to making a name for herself in the global sports world. It all started when Gupta created She Talks Ball, a media platform dedicated to women’s sports, as something to do during the pandemic after noticing the lack of representation in the industry. Gupta’s platform has grown to get some much-deserved recognition in the form of receiving Sports Innovation Lab’s Title XI Content Creator Grant and even getting to collaborate with Chelsea FC.
GoodSport spoke with Gupta in an exclusive interview to discuss how she got into sports and why she created She Talks Ball.
Minor editing changes were made for clarity.
Tell us how you got into sports.
I think it just began as something that I did to pass time, whether it be at school or in my apartment complex area, it was just where I spent my day after school and I really clicked with it in terms of just the competitive nature. Even at the age of like five or six, I wanted to win every school, every goal, but it was, and still is, male-dominated, even at the building or society level. I just grew up playing with the boys and I took to it. Luckily my parents were very supportive in terms of me coming back with bruises or a bloody lip or something, they didn't mind at all. That was great. What happened was in school, I was playing during the PE period and the football coach saw me and he said, why don't you come for training?….I did it once and I was completely blown away by the fact that there were so many girls playing! ‘till I was 18 and school ended, I didn't miss a single practice. It was just the best part of my day. I played for my school. I also played for my district. Over the years I realized that has really been the key factor in shaping my personality, be it leadership, or discipline. I think everyone who plays sports or is involved in sports knows that it has the capability of really impacting a person, outside the fitness aspect of it. I definitely think I'm a product of sports, so yeah, that's how I began.
How did you get into starting She Talks Ball?
I think it just happened by chance, honestly, in lockdown in October, November, December of 2020. I was sitting at home with so much time on my hands and it suddenly struck me that for years and years, I have just been watching men's sports on TV. If I open my newspapers, it's plastered with men’s sporting news, even the most domestic level competition has been given priority over some international news happening in the women's sports universe. It just hit me that I've switched on the TV to see male commentators, male presenters, and then men playing at school. And that's been my entire life. I kind of got neck deep into women's sports, be it watching or talking about it. I started interning for different women’s sports platforms. I was like I'll help you with social media and make a graphic for you or host a live interview. I just dabbled around in different things because I had time on my hands and I realized that if I'm doing this, like over here and over there, I might as well just start a platform of my own, that acts like a dump for all my content, all my information. I really didn't think that it would take off the way it did, although when it did, I wasn't surprised because I knew there was a big market for women's sports and there was a big demand. I just didn't think that I would be able to satisfy that need to whatever extent it has gotten to.
She Talks Ball, it began simply as a platform to create content, conversation, and coverage of women's sports. I think that's the one sentence I use to sum it up. If you see it today, I've done a season-long collaboration with Chelsea FC where I've gotten to speak with players and interview them. That again, came about because I was a vocal fan of the team and an advocate for women's sports. They reached out to me saying “Hey, you're making video content and you've got a great Indian market. We think we can explore this collaboration.” So I was like, yeah. Okay. Obviously, I'm not going to say no to something like that. Yeah, I mean, I'm very proud of how far it's come, but I know for a fact that I haven't put my full-time energy into this yet, so I know that there's still a long way to go.
How do the inequities between women’s and men’s cricket differ from other sports you’ve seen?
I think for cricket, in India, what I can speak for men's cricket, is just what everyone lives and breathes. Every little kid, including myself, grew up watching the men's team. I also played to whatever extent I could with the people around me, and the women's teams were still very nascent/unknown. It hit me like a truck when I saw our women playing on TV for the first time in 2017, which was just five years ago. They were playing in the World Cup. I was like, “there’s an Indian women’s team?!”. I had no idea that people who look like me and talk like me actually play at the highest level. Instantly visibility gives you a pathway into probably pursuing that. Overall, in terms of India, men's cricket, and women's cricket, the disparity is probably one of the biggest you would find in sport because men's cricket is where all the money's at. It's very commercial. The athletes are worshiped like gods, and I think women's cricket is just up and coming. It’s now getting noticed, but when COVID hit, all tournaments were shut down and the priority was given to the revenue-earning commercialized men's league … I think it's a very evident disparity in cricket and something that we're all desperate to change because cricket is something that just unites India. The fact that it's so male-dominated is a bit scary to be honest because a majority of the country believes that's the only team playing the sport, which is just simply not true.
I noticed a passion point of yours is sustainable living and living eco-friendly. When did you start that lifestyle?
I think I was 11, [my sister] was eight when my parents just had this doomsday vision of the world. My mother was like, there's going to be a time where there's going to be wars in the world and there wouldn't be any food, there wouldn't be any water. They started doing a lot of research into this and they bought a small plot of land back home where we have done sustainable agriculture. Now, 90% of the food that comes to our dinner table is grown by us. That's something that they always wanted and they luckily had the foresight to start 10, 15 years ago so that we can reap the fruits of it today. That was one aspect of it. The other was we all overnight just became vegetarians and we simply realized the cruelty towards animals. And we stopped having meat. For me, as an 11-year-old, I didn't quite understand what it was, but I had no hesitation and completely boycotted meat, just for cruelty purposes. I think that's where the eco-friendly nature has been cultivated in my sister and myself. Yeah, it's something that we wear with pride and try to also propagate.
Lastly, you've been accomplishing a lot in your career so far such as being invited to the AFC Women's Asian Cup and receiving Sports Innovation Lab's Title IX Grant. Where do you see yourself in a year, 5 years, or even 10 years?
I think the initial thing that comes to mind is that I want to work in women's sports forever. I think that's been my dream for about a year and a half or two years. That's been my goal and I just graduated from college. Luckily the full-time job I'm at right now is well within the women's sports universe. I was very keen to take this up. Even if it means that ‘She Talks Ball’ may be put on hold for a couple of months or a couple of years or whatever. Maybe I'll still work on it as I have been so far, I've been doing it side by side with education. Now I'll do it side by side with work. I think that has been my main goal. I've been lucky enough to graduate college and get into the space that I wanted.
The bigger goal I think is just to create an impact that means something. I think the goal would eventually be to maybe make `She Talks Ball’ into something quite permanent and maybe a global name, but at the moment in the next year, it's just to make my place in the industry and just see where it goes from there. I'd love to attend as many tournaments as I can. That's been something I've done since I was a kid. Like I just want to go from tournament to tournament and not have to pay for it. Like if that's possible, that's amazing. So I'm going to see where it takes me, but that definitely is my goal. One major thing I've realized is that the network that you create and the people you surround yourself with, even in terms of virtual connections [you don't have to be best friends with them] really make a big difference. The circle around me has uplifted me and helped me in getting to where I am today. I still have a long way to go at just 21, but I'm super excited for what's going to come up.
Photo credits: She TalksBall’s Instagram