After a long lull, Kerala woman’s football returns
After seven years of hiatus, Kerala’s women football league is back to provide a professional platform for women footballers.
After seven years of hiatus, Kerala’s women football league is back to provide a professional platform for women footballers. Eight professional clubs across the state will participate in the league, being organised by Kerala Football Association (KFA) between November and December.
“The plan is to complete the league before January and the winning team will directly qualify for the Indian Women’s League (IWL). A meeting with the stakeholders of all clubs will be held by next week. If they are willing, we will try to organise the league by mid-November,” said Anil Kumar P, secretary of KFA.
Kerala Blasters FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Luca SC, Don Bosco FC and Kadathanadu Raja Football Accademy have confirmed their participation so far. The remaining three teams will be added later.
While Kerala Blasters FC and Luca SC will be placing their debut women’s teams, Gokulam Kerala FC has requested KFA to fix their matches at a later period as the dates will clash with the team’s AFC Women’s Club Championship fixtures.
The league will see one-leg matches between the eight teams. “Currently, KFA is considering Chandrashekharan Nair Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram, and JLN stadium, Kochi, as prospective venues. AIFA international academy at Koppam in Malappuram is also an option. A final decision will be taken after consulting all stakeholders,” said Anil Kumar.
The football association has already reached out to several teams to ensure a strong talent pool.
“We organised Khelo India’s women football league last year. So there is a pool of talented woman footballers available now. We wish to expand the leaugue in a couple of years to a competition between 10 teams with two-leg matches,” he said.
Kerala hosted several tournaments for women during the 1980s and 1990s. Since 2000, the tournaments dried up. KFA organised the women’s Kerala Premier League with eight clubs in 2014. “We had thousands of women watching football matches. But later, the ecosystem crashed. Kerala is yet to develop a pool of trained woman coaches and aspiring players,” said MM Jafar Khan, a football writer and sports critic.
For aspiring players
Many players are upbeat about the league as it provides a much-needed platform for aspiring players. “Many give up on their passion due to lack of exposure and opportunities. With regular matches, players’ quality will improve and this will fetch them better visibility at the national level,” said Athulya K V, a former player of Gokulam Kerala FC.