The inaugural edition of the Indian Women’s League which ended on Tuesday, February 14 can only be a start for Indian Women’s football and a lot needs to done for the promotion of women’s football in India.
First my heartiest congratulations to Eastern Sporting Union on winning the 1st IWL title!!!
A start has been made, then 20 years after the National Football League for men was launched in the 1996/97 season, India’s women’s footballers finally have a league of their own, but it would be better to call it a club football tournament rather than a proper league in the IWL’s current format with qualifiers and a one venue national final.
The AIFF has its issues in running Indian football overall, but the women’s department has done a commendable job in getting the Indian Women’s League off the blocks.
I was there at the launch of the Indian Women’s League in New Delhi on January 24. I have seen launches of other leagues in India in the past, therefore I can say that it was a successful event with the sports minister and Olympic medal winner Sakshi Malik attending besides the media showing that much of interest in women’s football in India.
There was some quality football, especially the final between Eastern Sporting Union and Rising Students Club brought out the best of Indian women’s football.
Then there is the story of 12 year old Senorita Nongpluh playing for FC Pune City. She became an instant hit with the youngsters attending the matches, but the question needs to be asked, if there is a minimum age barrier for girls to play at a senior level league.
Also it was good to see besides the traditional powerhouses of Indian Women’s football in Manipur and Odisha that in states like Haryana, Mizoram and Puducherry women’s football is making progress.
Still loads need to be improved in the coming years. The qualifiers in Cuttack saw a lack of appropriate dressing rooms, clubs from the I-League and Indian Super League were reluctant to take part, Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium saw too much football in two weeks and in the end was not an appropriate venue for such a high level competition plus the duration of the league needs to expand and held across India as a real national level Indian Women’s League.
But as said, it is good for women’s football to have a league of their own and it will hopefully grow from here on in the years to come.