Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday said the government will launch a football league for women next month, aiming to take the sport to the masses. “We are going to launch women football league, most probably next month. We are ready with the format and it will be one of the most extensive football programmes in the country and it will be in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development,” Rijiju told reporters in Mumbai. He was speaking after unveiling the official emblem of next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, to be hosted by India.
“We are ready and we are going to launch it. And you are going to see that it will be huge movement in India, not just a tournament. We have to raise the level of football in India and we have to be aggressive. I am clear in that if we are not aggressive, we won’t be able to push through,” the minister said.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel and chief women’s football officer of FIFA, Sarai Bareman were present on the occasion. Rijiju said the Indian women’s team has better prospects of making it to the main football World Cup as compared to the men due to higher ranking.
“In this one year’s time, we would be generating enough enthusiasm among people to make this World Cup one of the most successful and memorable. Personally I have two objectives - one is to make this event the most successful and second to take that as an opportunity to create football culture in India.”
“When I speak about creating a sports culture in India, we cannot overlook football. Being the most popular sport on this planet, football has to be a priority. Football culture is being developed now, but what we require is to take it to a new level,” he added.
Rijiju also said that he has urged FIFA to look at more venues for hosting matches. “For me football is the No. 1 sport in the country, not in the context of commercial success and winning international championships, but it can be played by all. In my area of northeast, football is a religion.
“As sports minister of India, I assure full support to the World Cup. India is a big country and I would like FIFA to look at more venues to conduct the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.”