Now A Women's Football League?
The Indian women's football team has better performances, and a better FIFA ranking, than their male counterparts. Those are good enough reasons for the All India Football Federation (AIFF), to start an ISL-like league exclusively for women, hopefully this year. Pune FC has become the first club to conduct trials for the same.
There weren't exactly serpentine queues at the Maharashtra Mandal Sports Complex on Sunday morning, as I-league club Pune FC conducted India's first ever professional football trials for women. But it's a significant start nevertheless.
Fifty girls, mostly from Pune, attended the trials that were overseen by coaches, and 23 were eventually selected. The selected girls will now attend training camps that will be conducted by Pune FC. The club will sponsor the players' training expenses, kits, and outstation travel expenses as well.
Pune's Sasha Pimento, who has played football for the Maharashtra U-14 side, but to play in a league will be a big achievement.
"I think there's a lot of scope for women's football in India, specially with leagues like Indian Super League (ISL), and I-league. I am sure it's going to start very soon for us too, I definitely want to be in the playing eleven", Sasha told NDTV.
Reports suggest Bengaluru FC and Shillong Lajong have also expressed interest in the AIFF's venture. Like the ISL, the AIFF will follow a draft system, from which a pool of players will be picked for the various franchises.
"This way women's football will at least get an identity in India. I always wanted to be an I-league coach. Similarly, all girls who start playing, hope they can be part of an I-league time. So this could be an eye opener if it really happens", Kalpana Das, who oversaw the trials for Pune FC, said while speaking to NDTV.
The Indian women's football team is ranked 53rd in the official FIFA rankings, out of 133 nations. Last year they won their third SAFF title.