In a step which will boost women’s football in the country, All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to make it compulsory for the clubs to have a women’s team to get the license.

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AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said that having a women’s team has been made a part of the licensing criteria for clubs.

“In our licensing criteria, we have put in a requirement for the clubs that they must have a women’s team. Although it’s not in the A or B level, at least it’s a beginning. Hopefully, like our youth development program, which started off slowly, then picked up the pace and is now doing quite well, the same thing will happen with women’s football and more and more clubs will field teams in our national competition – the Indian Women’s League (IWL),” Das said.

He also made a mention of the rapid strides made by women’s football in India which coincided with the emergence of the IWL.

“I think clubs should realise that women’s football is a very important area. There is a lot of focus from the federation on women’s football. I think the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2021 will help (in that regard) as will the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022. But, the clubs should understand that it is important to focus on women’s football and have a team playing in the IWL,” Das reckoned.

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The competition completed its fourth edition in the 2019-20 season and saw 12 teams compete in the final round that took place in Bengaluru.

Gokulam Kerala FC, who compete in the I-League as well, were crowned the champions after defeating Manipur-based side KRYPHSA in a thrilling finale and Das stressed on how vital it is for clubs across the country to focus on women’s football, especially with India set to host two major international tournaments in the next two years.

Some of the players have always been advocating for having women’s teams by the major clubs in the country.

“Clubs play a major role in the development of football which we have seen in the European countries. Similarly, here in India also they can play a role. When we say development of football, women are also needed to give the same amount of importance. Over the years, women football has improved. If these clubs can come up with their women’s team, it will be a huge boost for the game,” Indian women football’s flag bearer Oinam Bembem Devi told The News Mill.

Apart from Gokulam Kerala, East Bengal FC and ISL side Pune City FC have their women teams.

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