The Young Legends’ League (YLL), a first of its kind football league, which will provide a platform for children aged below 12 years to play competitive football every weekend, was launched by The Mizoram Football Association (MFA) and 8one Foundation on Tuesday. Paving the way for structured development, the league will also be aided by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The 5-a-side league will take place in Champhai, the football-obsessed district of Mizoram which has produced several talented players such as Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lalchhawnkima, Lalruatthara and Robert Lalthlamuana. The league will feature over 500 matches, with each team playing more than 30 games over a period of six to eight months, making it the longest football league in India. Every YLL team will have a squad consisting of ten players (including one female player), ensuring they get as much on-field exposure.
Announcing the Young Legends’ League, Lalnghinglova ‘Tetea’ Hmar, Secretary of Mizoram Football Association, commented, “The Young Legends’ League will look to provide competitive football matches to children below 12 years to hone their footballing acumen and skills. We intend to increase the time children spend with the ball so as to inculcate both technical and social skills, which in my opinion, is the best way to ensure holistic development of an individual. MFA believes in giving exposure to young talent, steadily helping develop players by giving them a platform to showcase their skills.” The MFA has signed a 10-year MoU with the 8one Foundation for the Young Legends’ League, which will see both the parties organize YLL in Champhai till 2027.
Varun Achreja, Founder, 8one Foundation, said, “Our aim is to leverage YLL as a community mobilizing tool that ensures the involvement of everyone in Champhai to execute this league and contribute to the development of kids through football. The initiative will emphasize on disseminating information related to education, nutrition, health as well as stress on the benefits of working collectively in a team.”
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), has lauded the work of MFA and 8one Foundation in strategizing such a concept. “It is encouraging to see that the Mizoram FA, 8one and Football Solutions are the first to work towards a sustainable and organic league that follows our Baby Leagues concept to maximize competitive engagement through the year. The ideal and philosophy for Champhai to now have a long-term, self-sustained and intensive youth calendar will speak for itself 6-8 years from today,'' remarked Richard Hood, Head of Player Development at the AIFF.
MFA and 8one Foundation have also partnered with ISL club North-East United FC (NEUFC) who have prior experience of scouting in Champhai. The first edition of Young Legends’ League will be held at Chhangphut Ground, Champhai, Mizoram, starting from the 11th November 2017 to 23rd July, 2018. Each match will be played for 40 to 60 minutes with matches taking place on a weekly basis.