The All India Football Federation (AIFF), the governing body of the sport in the country today (January 24, 2017) launched the first ever Women’s Professional League, the Indian Women’s League (IWL), which is to be contested among six teams.
All matches of the two-week Indian Women’s League will be played at Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium with the first match scheduled for Saturday, January 28.
Besides AIFF President Praful Patel and Minister of State (I/C) Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel, representatives from the six teams, as well as Sakshi Malik were present on the occasion.
Sharing his thoughts on the occasion Praful Patel, President, AIFF, said: “Our women’s team is ranked 54 in the world which is higher than the men’s ranking of 129 which means that for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, if we put in the right effort our women’s team will have an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup before the men. This in itself is a huge achievement.”
“This is a beginning for the women’s game in the country. We are starting with six teams and hope to expand it to 16 by next year. This gives our women footballers the option to take it up as a career. I wish all the teams the very best and may the best team win,” he added.
Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Vijay Goel lauded the AIFF for launching IWL which he felt will “inspire the women footballers of the country to work towards a goal.”
He further added, “Since my dear friend Mr. Praful Patel is heading the football federation I expect Indian football to progress at a greater pace. This is a momentous occasion and today women are ahead of men in every field. I hope our women footballers will also earn greater laurels for the country. Whatever help is required from the Government and Sports Ministry, we shall ensure that all help is provided.”
The six participating teams – FC Alakhpura (Haryana), Jeppiaar Institute of Technology FC (Puducherry), Aizawl FC (Mizoram), FC Pune City (Maharashtra), Rising Student Club (Odisha) and Eastern Sporting Union (Manipur) – would play each other in a round-robin format with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals.
20 teams from across nine states had taken part in the first leg of the qualifiers from which nine teams qualified for the IWL prelims which were held in Cuttack in October 2016.
Dalima Chibber (FC Pune City), Oinam Bembem Devi (ESUFC), Sasmita Malik (Rising Student FC), Sanju Yadav (FC Alakhpura), Sumithra Kamaraj (Jeppiar Institute FC) and K. Lalruaizeli (Aizawl FC) represented their respective teams at the launch.
(Report & Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)