Clubs keep AIFF’s women’s football league plan hanging

Kolkata Sep 22 (IANS) The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is awaiting the green light from clubs to go ahead with the first national women’s league, a top official said on Thursday.

The league is slated to start in January-February next year.

It is learnt that due to dilly-dallying of participating clubs, the initial proposal of having eight Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League franchises along with top two state teams from the qualifying rounds is not picking up steam.

“We are awaiting written confirmation from the clubs. As soon as we get that we will go ahead with the league,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das told IANS over phone.

AIFF President Praful Patel had said earlier this year that the women’s league will be launched in October.

“There was a very fruitful workshop two months back where we discussed all the modalities. Now the onus is on the clubs to get back to us and have their teams. We are waiting for them. Otherwise the AIFF is ready,” said Das.

According to the ambitious plan, a copy of which is with IANS, teams in nine states will first play the pre-qualifying rounds.

The top side from each of the intra-state round will make the cut for the qualifiers, where the nine teams — divided into two groups — will vie for two spots in the final round.

A player draft is to be done for the final round of the tournament, comprising 60 best players from the senior and U-19 national teams divided across three categories.

Players shortlisted for the draft will not participate in the qualifying rounds.

“The pre-qualifiers are on in different states,” Das informed.

A knowledgeable source, however, said it is difficult for clubs, most of them operating with shoe-string budgets, to fork out money for women’s football.

“It is sad but it is the reality. I-League clubs are not in the best of shape financially and ISL clubs are now busy with their season. This is a transitional phase for Indian football with a merger on the anvil. Things look dim for a women’s league at present,” the source said.

The Indian eves national team has been regularly performing well — their last title being at the South Asian Games this year. India are ranked 57th in the global women’s rankings.

–IANS

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