The Indian Football Association (IFA), which is the governing body for football in West Bengal, has announced the first ever full-fledged Futsal league in the state following a meeting of the IFA-WB Futsal Committee. The tournament is set to kick off on 14th April in Kolkata, a day which marks the beginning of the Bengali New Year and is also called ‘Poila Baishakh’. However, that is subject to change due to the upcoming state elections.
As an added incentive for followers of the game, FC Barcelona’s Futsal coach Miguel Andres might be involved in a mentorship role from back in Spain. 16 teams will be participating in the competition which will be played on a league plus knockout basis. Teams from East Bengal, Mohun Bagan as well as other Premier A, Premier and First Division clubs will be invited to be a part of the event. Matches will be played at four separate venues which are yet to be finalized.
Each team will be allowed to enlist a maximum of two foreign players although only one will be allowed to be on the pitch at any given moment during a match. In all probability, the teams will also feature foreign coaches as mentors. As is common in Futsal all over the world, rolling substitutions will be allowed. To ensure that referees and coaches are on the same page regarding the rules of Futsal, workshops are being arranged ahead of the start of the tournament.
This is a part of IFA’s larger project around Futsal which is very popular in Bengal. Identifying talented youngsters through this tournament and introducing them into the greater talent pool is one of the objectives. Also, re-energizing the craze around the beautiful game in a state which has, over the past few years, stagnated in terms of producing top talent is also a major goal for the governing body.