Keeping an eye on the growing success of women in sports in the country, the Indian government has asked the Sports Authority of India to conduct the 'Khelo India Girls League'. The league, which would mainly be for the U-17 age group, would initially kickoff with football from January next year.
With an aim to expand the scope for the Indian eves at the grass-root level from where the federation would then groom the athletes to excel in future, SAI would be working alongside the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to initiate 'Khelo India Girls Football League', reported TOI.
While the dates and venues are yet to be announced, the league could be scheduled closer to the third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG), which is going to be held from January 10-22 next year in Guwahati. The proposal has also been expected to bring into limelight the U-17 women's football World Cup that India would be hosting next year.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced that after the initial stages of the league for any sport would see the federation working with local clubs, academies, and school teams of a city or town, the better teams would then compete nationally. The process would be expected to throw up national-level teams and athletes. It would be a typical league of 16 teams with each side playing 15 matches over four-six months.
"Our women athletes are doing very well across all sports, and there are so many more talented girls who can be identified at a young age and groomed to become professional sportspersons. In India, the culture of sports is still very nascent so giving a special platform to the girl athlete is important so that parents and children both feel motivated to take up sports at a young age,” said Rijiju.
I am very happy that AIFF has already decided to partner with us to organize and provide technical support to the football league for girls. This is the start, and we will soon have leagues in other sports too," the minister added.
While the football league would be the U-17 age group to begin with, the next two years would see categories like U-15 and U-13 getting included. "It is a first-of-its-kind initiative being taken by the government and this will help promote the sport and identify raw talent from across the country in a big way. After the first edition the intention of Khelo India is to scale up the league both in terms of age group and scope of operations so that the maximum number of girls can participate," said AIFF President Praful Patel.
While SAI would initially sponsor it, the local organizers at the state level would be needed to raise sponsorship for local matches, as per approved guidelines of the government, for the long run.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi