Khelo India, Sports Authority of India’s flagship program to scout and nurture grassroots level sports talent in the country, is all set to launch leagues across all sports exclusively aimed at the girl child. The scheme is expected to boost the participation of girls in sports.
Titled as Khelo India Girls League (KIGL), the leagues will be organised along with the sporting federations, and state governments. The first league in the offing is the Khelo India Girls Football League, which is all set to be organised by the All India Football Federation in association with the Sports Authority of India.
The KIGL has been designed to motivate girls to join sports at the grassroots level and subsequently groom them to excel in the same. To make sure that the grassroot-level talent can be identified through KIGL, the initial league for any sport is all set to be organised by the Federation along with its partners between local clubs, academies as well as the school teams of a city or town.
The best performing teams from every state will then compete on a national level, thus throwing up national-level athletes and teams. In an ideal league of 16 teams, each team will be able to play around 15 matches in a duration of 4-6 months.
Speaking about the innovative initiative, India’s Union Sports Minister 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 organize the football league for girls. This is the start, and we will soon have leagues in other sports too.”
Further elaborating about the initiative, AIFF (All India Football Federation) 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.”
“It is a first-of-its-kind initiative being taken by the Government of India and AIFF, and this will help promote the sport and identify raw talent from across the country in a big way. After the first edition we intend to scale up the league both in terms of age group and scope of operations so that the maximum number of girls can participate.”
“I am extremely thankful to the Government of India for all their help.”
SAI will be sponsoring the league. However, to ensure financial viability in the future, local organisers will be able to raise sponsorship for local matches, in accordance with the approved government guidelines.