The decision has been made keeping in mind the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to be hosted in the country next year.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to introduce an U-17 Women’s League for the 2019-20 season, in order to recruit new players ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020. India is set to host the showpiece event for the second time after successfully staging the men’s variant in 2017.
“AIFF has introduced U-17 IWL from this season. The tournament is basically to recruit new players ahead of the FIFA World Cup next year,” sources close to the developments told Khel Now. They further explained, “The tournament would be played on City/State/Zonal rounds depending on the number of teams registered and fulfilment of licensing criteria.”
The initial/zonal rounds would start sometime in September and will get over by 31st October, according to the plans being considered by the apex body.
The U-17 Women’s team is currently led by ex-Indian player Alex Ambrose who hails from Mumbai and he is being assisted by former women’s captain and legend Oinam Bem Bem Devi.
The players recruited through the U-15 National Football Championship earlier went on to play the second edition of the SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship in Bhutan. where they were crowned champions. The team went to Hong Kong on an exposure tour, where they pitted themselves against Taipo FC and U-23 Hong Kong side and won 4-1 and 5-0 respectively.
The first season of the Indian Women’s League was started way back in 2016 with six teams and earlier this year it completed its third campaign. Last season, the league had 12 teams participating for the coveted title in Ludhiana, where Sethu FC were crowned champions
Ambrose earlier hailed the hosting of the World Cup as a “fantastic moment” for Indian football. He went to add, “It’s a fantastic moment for women’s football in India and the sport as a whole. It’s a great opportunity, as it will bring awareness among the state associations, who will be encouraged further to increase their efforts for women’s football.”
He further quipped, “Playing at a stage such as the U-17 World Cup will give the young girls an opportunity to showcase their talents and a huge motivation to play for. One hopes that they will continue growing from here and will gradually move into the senior team and hope to play in even bigger tournaments.”