The All India Football Federation confirmed Odisha as the venue for the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Women’s League. The dates of the tournament will be announced soon, AIFF said in its press release. This is the fifth edition of the IWL, which began in 2016 and was held in Delhi. The current champions of the tournament are Gokulam Kerala FC, beating Kryphsa FC 3-2 in the final on February 14, 2020 in Bengaluru.
“The Government of Odisha has been a great supporter of Indian Football. We are very thankful to Shri Naveen Patnaik ji, Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev, Mr. Vineel Krishna and and the entire Sports Department of Odisha for extending all the support & help to organise the Hero Indian Women’s League. Over the years, the tournament has provided the platform for a lot of budding women footballers to show-case their talent and provide them the option of taking up football as a career,” AIFF president Praful Patel said.
The state qualifiers for the Indian Women’s League are currently going on or will start in various states. SSB Women’s Club has qualified from West Bengal after they comprehensively beat East Bengal in the final of the Kanyashree Cup on December 30, 2020. Currently the women’s league in Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha and Goa are going on. Delhi Women’s League will begin on March 22. Barwani FC emerged as the champions of the Madhya Pradesh Women’s Premier League after topping the points table of the Super League phase.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das thanked the Odisha Government and stated that this edition of the IWL “is set to have a significantly higher number of matches”.
“Holistic development of sports in India, and Indian football in particular is Odisha Sports’ vision. Odisha has been synonymous with women’s football in India for long. I am an ardent supporter of women empowerment, and the hosting of the Indian Women’s League in Odisha allows us the opportunity to contribute to the development of women’s football in the country along with the All India Football Federation. Women sportspersons in India have been bringing huge laurels for the country and I am confident our women footballers will garner more glory in the near future,” Odisha’s Minister of State, Sports and Youth Services Tushar Kanti Behera said.
“Hosting the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Women’s League will be another feather in the cap of Odisha Sports. Under the leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik, Odisha has turned into the biggest sporting hub in our country. Hon’ble CM’s leadership has been driving a sporting revolution in the state. I am sure the IWL will lead to tremendous excitement amongst the football aficionados of the state. We look forward to hosting a successful edition of the tournament,” Vishal Kumar Dev, IAS, Principal Secretary, Sports & Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha said.
Since the pandemic, Indian football has been leading it from the front to bring back sporting action in India. It all started with the I-League Qualifiers, which were followed by the ongoing Indian Super League and the I-League.
Recently, Indian women’s football also had an exposure tour of three matches against Serbia, Russia and Ukraine in Turkey, which was preceded by a two-month training camp from December 1, 2020, in Goa.