As many as 20 football clubs from around the country, including the Indian Super League franchisees, I-League teams and local teams from Kerala have expressed interest to be a part of the proposed women's football league in India. AIFF President Praful Patel had mentioned earlier this year that the first-of-its-kind women's football league would start in India around October or November in 2016.
All the eight ISL franchisees, along with I-League champions Bengaluru FC, Aizawl FC and Mumbai FC, have reportedly decided to field their own women's teams in the proposed competition, according to the Times of India. The AIFF (All India Football Federation) is also deciding whether to include clubs from other non-I-League states like Kerala in the proposed league.
While AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das has expressed shock to get such a massive reception to the proposed women's football league in the country, the big question remains now as to where the funds will come from to stage the matches on a home-and-away basis.
"It's very encouraging. I didn't expect so many teams to come forward. The best news is that all eight ISL franchises have said they are keen on having their own teams in the women's league," said Das to TOI. "Now that we have got encouraging response from across the country, we will have to put together a detailed structure.
"Due to the finances, we cannot have the league on a home-and-away basis," he revealed.
Das mentioned that a maximum of eight to 10 teams will be participating in the first edition, and it would be a round-robin competition format, ultimately culminating to the knockout stages.
"There will be qualifiers for a start and the final phase - with about eight to 10 teams - will be a round-robin played at a single venue with knockouts to decide the finalists. The wining team should get at least 11 to 12 matches," said Das.
Patel had mentioned earlier that he envisions the India women's football team, ranked 58 in the world, to qualify for the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2018 and the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in France.