Fateh Hyderabad AFC and Premier Sport India launched the Hyderabad Baby League in Hyderabad yesterday, marking the beginning of a structured league system which will allow the children of the city to participate free of cost. The event took place at the residence of Andrew Fleming, the British Deputy Commissioner for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The event was graced by the Chief Guest Jayesh Ranjan, the Principal Secretary, Ministry of IT for Telangana. Also present was Guest Of Honour, former Indian football International and Hyderabadi Victor Amalraj. The President and the Honorary Secretary of the Telangana Football Association (TFA), Dr. Mohd Ali Rafat and G.P. Palguna respectively, were also in attendance.
The concept of a Baby League, comes from nations in South and Central America like Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Colombia, which have contributed about 7000 players worth about 3.5 billion dollars in a single transfer window. These players have been primed to “play to win” from an early stage. As stated by Richard Hood, the All India Football Federation’s Head of Youth Development, “The approach is to provide game experiences without stressing on the format and focus more on individual ability and expression on the pitch. The formal pathways can always come later once they learn to play the game with love, dedication and focus and have a strong relationship with the ball. The Baby League primarily involves kids between 6-13 years of age.”
Speaking at the event, Jayesh Ranjan expressed his delight that such a platform was being made available to the budding footballers of the city. “We have all enjoyed the World Cup that concluded recently. And for India to get there one day, our kids need to get into an organised system where they are able to play regularly, every week, under trained coaches. I am happy that Fateh Hyderabad AFC has taken this initiative and I would like to extend my support to their endeavour.”
Andrew Fleming was equally approving of the initiative and said, “I am a huge football fan and I have been following Fateh Hyderabad AFC quite closely. It is great to see them take up an initiative which will provide a community based thrust to the football landscape in Hyderabad. Yogesh and his team are extremely passionate about football development and I am sure that this initiative will help children of this city to participate in a structured environment.”
Former India captain Victor Amalraj stated that the city needed to adopt the Hyderabad Baby League to discover prodigies who can go on to become excellent footballers in the future. “There was a time when you had multiple Olympians from this city. We won the Asian games in the past and Indian football was producing one talent after another. We should aspire to qualify for the World Cup one day. And that will only happen when children are introduced to the game at a young age. I would like to lend my support towards this cause and would like to assure Mr. Yogesh and his team that I will be there whenever they need me.”
Technical and Sporting Director of Fateh Hyderabad AFC, Yogesh Maurya shed more light on how the Hyderabad Baby League would function. “The League will be held for the Under-6, Under-8, Under-10 and Under-12 age groups. The cost of the league shall be borne entirely by Fateh Hyderabad AFC. Kids from local teams and schools are more than welcome to come and participate. The matches will be held on Sunday and will be geared towards making the participants enjoy themselves. We have chosen Bowenpally as the venue for the initial phases and eventually we want to make this a year-round initiative where children are getting to play as many hours as possible so that they can develop and enhance their skills. We will also be scouting the league for talent that can go into Fateh Hyderabad’ AFC’s U-13, U15 and U-18 teams.”
Abhik Chatterjee, the General Manager of Fateh Hyderabad AFC also spoke about why this League was important for the children of the city, “The basic premise of the league is to provide an opportunity to each and every child who wants to experience playing with a team and playing in a league. One of the best ways for young footballers to develop, is for them to play as many games as possible. And the Baby League will o.er them an opportunity to play with their mates, which is what makes children happy in the end.”
The Telangana Football Association iterated their support towards the initiative.
Registrations for the event can be done via www.hyderabadbabyleague.com and the AIFF Baby League app starting August 4, 2018. The league is scheduled to start on the 1st week of September, 2018.