The 11th edition of the Hero I-League – India’s top football league, was officially launched at a glittering ceremony in the National Capital today. It hopefully marks the beginning of another scintillating season of top-flight league football in the country, after debutants Aizawl FC defied all odds to emerge triumphant in 10th edition. The I-League is richer this year with the addition of three new teams from three different states, all with a football culture to be proud of and will significantly enhance the reach of the league, both within India and internationally. The 11th season of the I-League will see 10 teams from eight states of the country fight it out for the One Crore-prize money at stake for the champions.
The three new additions are in the form of Gokulam Kerala FC from Calicut, Neroca FC from Imphal, Manipur and the Indian Arrows who would be based in Delhi. Besides, the 11th edition will also be much more rewarding for the players from a financial point of view. While the team prize money remains consistent for the winners (1 Crore), Runners Up (60 Lakh), Third Place (40 Lakhs) and Fourth Place (25 Lakhs) teams, that for individual prize moneys have seen a whopping increase of over 100% this season.
The 2017-18 edition of the I-League that kick-starts on 25th November 2017 and culminates on 6th March 2018, will witness the country’s elite football league return to the National Capital, New Delhi with the AIFF Developmental Team, the Indian Arrows making a comeback. The India U-17 team head coach Luís Norton de Matos of Portugal, would be their head coach. The team is a mix of India U-17 and India U-19 national team players.
“This year is all about showcasing what the I-League has been doing for years. Launching Indian football’s future stars. History is testimony that the I-League has laid the foundation for Indian football stars to go ahead and shine in their careers and make the country proud. The edition also pays special tribute to the coaches who create those stars with their dedication and commitment towards the beautiful game. We are happy to welcome Kerala back in the league and the return of I-League football to Delhi. I believe these new developments along with the clubs from Northeast, West Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Goa will make the league even more competitive and interesting. I would like to convey my best wishes to all the participating clubs of this year’s edition,” said Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Also, commenting on the occasion Pawan Munjal, MD and CEO Hero Motocorp said, “Hero has always been proud of its association with the game of football. The FIFA U-17 World Cup has only increased the already existing craze of Indian football. The I-League this season will have around 90 matches being played across the country. As the marquee title sponsors we feel that as much support as possible should be provided to the sport and we have full faith that this year the I-League will touch new hearts and throw up new stars of for Indian football going forward.”
The 10 teams from nine states of the 11th I-League are – defending champions Aizawl FC (Mizoram), Neroca FC (Manipur), Shillong Lajong FC (Meghalaya), Mohun Bagan AC (West Bengal), Kingfisher East Bengal (West Bengal), Minerva Punjab (Punjab), Gokulam Kerala FC (Kerala), Churchill Brothers FC Goa (Goa), Indian Arrows (Delhi), Chennai City FC (Chennai).
The first match will kick off from November 25, 2017 between Minerva Punjab and Mohun Bagan in Ludhiana at 17:30 IST.