Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced that the Sports Ministry will soon launch the first-ever women’s football league next month, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It is expected to be ‘one of the most extensive football programmes’ in the country.
Rijiju made the announcement at the event of unveiling the official emblem for the 16-team tournament at the Gateway of India in Mumbai on Saturday. FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Baremen and All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel were also present.
The announcement came just a year before India is hosting the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup - in November 2020. The Indian Women’s Football Team will come together for a 10-day camp later this month to prepare for the same.
“In this one year's time, we would be generating enough enthusiasm among people to make this World Cup one of the most successful and memorable,” said the Minister.
He laid down two main objectives for next year’s World Cup - to host the most successful event, and to seize the opportunity to create a flourishing football culture in the country.
The Minister also shared that a format for the proposed league is ready. Aimed at bringing the sport to the masses, he said, “We are ready and we are going to launch it. And you are going to see that it will be a huge movement in India, not just a tournament.”
“We have to raise the level of football in India and we have to be aggressive. I am clear in that if we are not aggressive, we won’t be able to push through,” he added. Rijju emphasised that football, being one of the most popular sports in the world, should not be overlooked while discussing the sports culture in India.
Saying that football is his personal number one sport, he added that where he comes from - Northeast India - football is a religion.