Khelo India, the flagship scheme of Sports Authority of India that scouts and nurtures grassroots level sports talent, is set to launch leagues across all sports, exclusively for girls.
The leagues titled Khelo India Girls League (KIGL) will be organised in association with sporting federations and state governments. The first league in the series is the Khelo India Girls Football League, which will be organised by the All India Football Federation, in association with the Sports Authority of India.
The blueprint of KIGL has been prepared with a view to give impetus to girls to join sport at the grassroots level and groom them to excel in it. To ensure that grassroot-level talent can be identified through KIGL, the initial league for any sport will be organised by the federation and its partners between local clubs, academies and school teams of a city or town.
The better ranked teams from each state will then compete nationally, thus throwing up national-level teams and athletes.
In a typical league of 16 teams, each team will play about 15 matches in a period of 4-6 months.
Speaking about KIGL, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said: “Our women athletes are doing very well across all sports and there are so many more talented girls who can be identified at a young age and groomed to become professional sportspersons.”
“In India, the culture of sports is still very nascent. So providing a special platform to the girl athlete is important so that parents and children both feel motivated to take up sports at a young age. I am very happy that AIFF has already decided to partner with us to organise the football league for girls. This is the start and we will soon have leagues in other sports too.”
While the initial league is being organised for the U-17 age group, AIFF plans to include age categories of U-15 and U-13 in the next two years.
Speaking about the initiative, All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel said: “Development of women’s football in India stays on top of our priority list. With the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup coming up in 2020, we intend to galvanise the face of women’s football in India and encourage more girls to take up the sport.”
The league will be sponsored by SAI, but to ensure financial viability in the long run, local organisers will also be allowed to raise sponsorship for local matches, as per approved guidelines of the government.