The All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel has thanked the Government of Odisha for stepping up to host the upcoming edition of the Indian Women's League (IWL) amid challenging circumstances.
The Indian FA, on Sunday, announced Odisha as the hosts of the 2020-21 season of the IWL. The dates and format of the tournament will be announced at a later date.
AIFF and Odisha have a longstanding partnership that sees the state providing access to their impressive training and stadium facilities for various national teams across age groups. And now, at time the pandemic is raging through the world, Odisha have stepped up to host the fifth season of the IWL.
“The Government of Odisha has been a great supporter of Indian Football. We are very thankful to Shri Naveen Patnaik (Odisha CM), Mr. Vishal Kumar Dev (Principal Secretary for Sports, Odisha), Mr. Vineel Krishna and the entire Sports Department of Odisha for extending all the support & help to organise the Indian Women’s League," Patel said.
He also mentioned how the IWL, since its inception in 2016, has become an important tournament for women footballers. It must be noted that Patel had stated his commitment for women's football multiple times in the past.
"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," he added.
Gokulam Kerala are the defending champions of the IWL which saw a participation of 12 teams in the 2019-20 season. With India set to host the U17 Women's World Cup and the Women's Asia Cup in 2022, the announcement of IWL would be a significant development for women's football.
Odisha's sports minister Tushar Kanti Behera also threw his weight behind women's football and said tournaments like IWL will help girls bring more laurels for the country.
“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.”
The AIFF had recently organised a national camp and a tour of Turkey for the India national women's team where they played against Serbia, Russia and Ukraine.