Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) (Credits: Twitter)

When Royal Challengers Bangalore Navnita Gautam as their massage therapist, she grabbed the headlines all over the country. The reason was obvious. In the 12-year history of IPL, only two female support staff members were hired by the franchises before Navnita Gautam became the third one.

Deccan Chargers, who are no more a part of the league, had hired massage therapists Ashleigh Joyce and Patricia Jenkins. Navnita Gautam is the first female support staff since then. No surprises then that she is garnering attention from all over. But as far as she is concerned, she is not nervous at all about her new assignment.

“It’s like having 20 brothers around at all times,” she told ESPNCricinfo.

“Slowly but surely, the transition is happening,” she said. “I believe that as long as the players and support staff trust your work, gender shouldn’t be an issue as we are all healthcare professionals working together as a team to get athletes back on the field.”

The Canada-based massage therapist, meanwhile, is not new to working with cricket or any other sports team. She has worked with Toronto Nationals in the Global T20 Canada league, and with the India women’s basketball team during the Asia Cup. And she believes the experience will make the work in IPL a fun one.

“The experience with Toronto Nationals in the Global T20 league was above and beyond amazing,” she said. “Thus, the transition to IPL should be a fun one. One of the challenges would be to understand every athlete’s body type/muscle quality and their likes and dislikes towards what type of treatment benefits them the most. Once I understand that, I think it’ll be pretty smooth sailing from then onwards.”

Royal Challengers Bangalore, meanwhile, will have new support staff next year. They have roped in Simon Katich as their head coach and Mike Hesson as their director of cricket operations. The Royal Challengers are still waiting to win their first IPL title.