The Kerala Women’s League (KWL) is all set to kick off after a long break of seven years on the 11th of December, with six teams from the state of Kerala fighting for the trophy. The inaugural match will be between Luca Soccer Club and Travancore Royals FC at the Corporation Stadium, Thrissur, which will also host the entire league from 11th December 2021 to 24th January 2022 at 6:00 PM kick-off time. The league also marks a solid start to the commercial partnership between the Kerala Football Association and scoreline sports. They recently penned a 12 year long deal with reportedly 350 crores worth of investment in Kerala Football.
The Scoreline Kerala Women’s League promises to rejuvenate women’s football in the Southern state. The last league for women of such a kind happened seven years before, with eight teams.
The federation cited financial problems as the reason for the discontinuation of the league and expected support from the football fans this time.
All the matches will be telecasted live on Sports Cast India Youtube and Facebook pages, and as per sources, spectators are not allowed.
Here are the excerpts from the Press Conference.
All India Football Federation Vice President, Mr K.M.I Mather spoke about the league’s comeback
“This is a comeback; we did conduct the league back then; however, due to financial reasons, it couldn’t be continued. We can also consider this as the start of the commercial partnership with Scoreline, and you can already see the changes. The Government of Kerala supports the plans, and we are looking forward. “
Stressing the importance of media support,
he added that “Football in Ernakulam flourished due to the undying support of Ernakulam Press, and I expect it to be the same even today.”
Malavika Jayaram, actress and an ardent football fan is a chief Patron of the KWL. She congratulated the players and said,
“I have played football in Chennai, and I know the difficulties the girls have to go through to make it into a team are.“
Malavika, along with actress Rima Kallingal was involved in a celebrity match marking the beginning of the KWL as well.
Kerala Football Association general secretary Mr. Anil Kumar talked about the previous league and the issues it faced,
“The previous league, which held in Wayanad, had eight teams. However, almost 70% of the players were not from Kerala. Ramco cement was the title sponsor of the league back then. The league had to be discontinued due to the lack of participation from clubs as we expected, and the milage we expected couldn’t be achieved.“
He added that all the teams this season are new, and none of those eight teams, which were formed by the efforts of district football associations, is playing this time.
Talking about the regulations and rules of the league.
“All the AIFF – FIFA regulations are rules are to be followed. Five substitutions, water brakes due to the COVID protocols will be followed. The teams have hired players who recently performed well in the National Football Championship; teams like Gokulam Kerala have requested the federation for the involvement of foreign players, which we expect will be cleared in the next few days and options for all the clubs will be the same.”
On being asked about the fact that Gokulam Kerala FC have experienced Indian internationals, as well as overseas recruits, who have proven their worth in the Asian level, will create an imbalance in the league compared it with the other teams, Mr Kumar said,
“We believe that in football, when you play against a better side, the quality will improve. Gokulam indeed has a women’s team, which they’ve strengthened long back, which took them to the top in the national level and led them to the AFC Cup. However, even for them, this league is mandatory. They can’t play the next season IWL without playing this league. We can’t give an exception to them because they have the quality. The other teams will be beneficial as they can play and achieve their quality and uplift themselves. If this league gets enough support, teams like Kerala Blasters and the rest of the 22 teams in the Kerala Premier League will come next time, and it won’t be easy for teams like Gokulam.” He explained.
On being asked about player restrictions and rules,
“The existence of the league is the first step; then it’s about policies and changes. We are restarting the league after a failure, and this time, we want to reach the people, the parents, who will promote the girls to play these kinds of leagues. The priority is to make a place for the league with good players, which will bring parents and fans alike. Gradually, we will look forward to restrictions and regulations.“
“The current situation is such, even though Kerala plays the national championships, we don’t have enough women coaches. Once they are married, they are restricted from their responsibilities. We dream of hundred coaches in the women’s category, but we only have less than ten who themselves are engaged in activities. We can only make such regulations once the things fall in place; we will make rules.”
He added that most of the players are Keralites, and a team can register 30 players in the squad, which will provide almost 180 players ample amount of opportunity to play.
With 22 teams playing in the Kerala Premier League this time, only six teams came forward with a women team, and the KFA representative added that 625 clubs in Kerala have the same opportunity to start a women’s team and the federation, along with scoreline sports are planning for academy leagues as well.
Participating teams: Gokulam Kerala FC, Kerala United FC, Luca Soccer Club, Don Bosco FA, Kadathanad Raja FA, Travancore Royals FC. The league winner will take home one lakh rupees, and the second team will get fifty thousand rupees. Apart from that, it is also announced that KFA will provide subsidies to the playing clubs.
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