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Manipur's first Baby League aims to strengthen grassroots

Manipurs first Baby League aims to strengthen grassroots

Press Release

Published: 22 Jan 2019 4:06 AM GMT
Toubul Youth & Development Association (TYDA) and 8one Foundation (8one) are pleased to announce the launch of the Young Legends’ League (YLL), Bishnupur (Manipur) edition. 8one which was established in 2017 became the first organization in India to conduct the first Baby League in the country in the Champhai District of Mizoram. Building on the success of YLL, Champhai, that currently has its second season ongoing 8one decided to take the social football movement to another football loving state of India; Manipur. Manipur boasts of a rich history of producing one of the most talented crop of footballers in the country. Owing to the raw talent in the state and the lack of structured grassroots programmes in remote parts of Manipur 8one became convinced to conduct YLL in Manipur while staying true to its vision of undertaking grassroots intervention in remote yet talent rich parts of the country. YLL, Bishnupur edition will feature three age groups viz. Under-6, Under-8 and Under-10 with local players hailing from different parts of Bishnupur district participating in the tournament under the aegis of 8 unique teams across the aforementioned age groups. The 5-aside league is based on the
All India Football Federation’s (AIFF)
baby league model, wherein 8 teams will be competing against each in a three legged league format. Matches will be played once every weekend with the league expected to run between 4 and 6 months. A total of 252 matches will be played with all teams in a particular age group playing 21 games each throughout the season. Each squad will consist of 10 players and team managers will be encouraged to register girls in their teams. The league results will be regularly updated on the official AIFF Baby League app. An official press conference was held at the TYDA club house in Toubul in the presence of various media personnel, members of TYDA and 8one along with former professional footballers to announce the launch of the league.
Vikram Philip Rajkumar
, Lead Consultant to 8one and former Head of Grassroots & Partnerships at an Indian Super League club officially announced the launch of Manipur’s first baby league; at the event. “Young Legends’ League is not a short term engagement but a five to eight month long intensive programme. YLL aims to instil social values such as respect, honesty and teamwork amongst the children alongside football development”, said Vikram. The aim for YLL is to provide more than 20 to 30 games to participants to ensure that young players in India are trained to be at par with their global counterparts. 8one has partnered with FC-TYDA, the football unit of TYDA to undertake the Bishnupur edition of Young Legends’ League. “In FC-TYDA we have found great individuals who are passionate about football and want to use the sport as a vehicle for social change in the community. Toubul has an amazing culture of Football. We have been in constant touch over a year to plan the best way to conduct the league in Toubul. In the past, we conducted Young Legends’ Cup, a league plus knockout cup format in Toubul to scout talented players for Reliance Foundation Young Champs as against conducting open trials. However, it was important to have a structured grassroots football plan for the village and for us it was the right time to commit seriously to the cause”, added Vikram. The plan is to run this programme for a minimum of 5 years and create evidence based results for both social and technical development. Under this programme, no fee is charged from the children while at the same time they are provided with complementary team kits. 8one is also supporting FC-TYDA by providing customised goalposts, footballs and various other equipment to organize the league. While sports are important for holistic development, YLL ensures that education of the children is not compromised. The aim is to create informed individuals equipped with apt life skills to enable them to take the right career decisions. Going forward, the league will focus on creating livelihood generation avenues by organising train the trainer courses for both referees and coaches through licensed tutors. YLL will be a stepping stone for such individuals to learn the trade and venture out into professional sports.
Bale Takhel, a football enthusiast from Manipur
, shared his thoughts on why such initiatives are important to take Indian Football to the next level. “Manipur has always been a talent hub for passionate and skilled football players especially those hailing from rural areas. The ask has always been to hone their capabilities both from a social and technical aspect. It’s good to see 8one supporting a community based engagement in Toubul. I am grateful to 8one, FC-TYDA and Football Solutions for organising a first of its kind league in Manipur”. Former Indian National Team and Mohun Bagan player, Dharamjit
Singh was also present at the event. “It is great to see 8one and FC-TYDA work jointly towards promoting football at the grassroots level. I am sure children will be very happy to play in such a structured format. I congratulate and wish them all the best for this endeavour” said Dharamjit. The press conference was succeeded by the first official match day of Young Legends’ League in Toubul with all 24 teams playing their respective matches. More than 500 people including parents and other community members turned up for the grand event. “We have never experienced something like this in the past. Our kids are so excited to play in the league. As parents we feel good about this initiative as our children are playing in a safe and professional environment under the supervision of FC-TYDA members. It feels like a mini festival where children from different parts of the village are participating in this league wearing different coloured jerseys while the elders get an opportunity to socialize”
exclaimed some of the parents at the match
. FC-TYDA member, Joy Thoudam, a former Sporting Goa, Prayag United and Rangdajied United player who plays a pivotal role in organising grassroots engagements in Toubul was surprised to see the number of people who turned up for YLL’s first matchday. “We have a great team of passionate football supporters in TYDA. In the past we have conducted a lot of initiatives for the kids in our village. Some of them have been scouted by ISL and I-League clubs as well as reputed academies across India. With 8one supporting us in conducting the first baby league in Manipur, we couldn’t have been more proud to host it in our very own village. We now have a purpose; a long-term commitment to take Manipur Football to newer heights. A majority of our members are involved in the Young Legends’ League. We have demarcated our operational responsibilities in a way so that the league runs smoothly throughout its tenure. On behalf of TYDA, we are thankful to 8one Foundation and Football Solutions for believing in us, for sharing the same goal as ours of community based football development and guiding us in every step of this long journey. Manipur has a rich history of producing talented players and being a feeder to the National Teams for both men and women. We are jointly committed to keep that process going on by helping produce more and more talented children from the state”. The first match day also witnessed the attendance of renowned former Indian National Team players
Renedy Singh and Gouramangi Singh
. “I am amazed to see so many people at the ground. It makes me happy to see parents coming out and cheering for their kids. The future of Manipur and Indian football is grassroots. While Indian National team is getting better and better year on year however, it is important to have structured grassroots programme to churn out talented players who are technically and tactically sound. It is good to see, 8one, FC-TYDA and Football Solutions targeting younger age groups (U6, U8 and U10) in Manipur as opposed to the U15 and above, given the raw talent of kids. I wish them all the best and hope they can spread this movement to other places as well” exclaimed
. Renedy Singh emphasised on how such leagues are important for talent development. “It is really nice to experience this atmosphere. Thanks to 8one, TYDA and Football Solutions. This is exactly what we need; going to the grassroots in remote parts and creating structured avenues for kids. Back in our days we didn’t have this and had to go through an arduous route to success. It is very important to expose children to the game at a younger age. We all know that Manipur has produced a lot of National Team players based on their sheer talent. With such an initiative, that guarantees a lot of games for kids across age groups, I am sure Manipur will be producing more and more talented players in the years to come”.
Also read: What the rise of Baby Leagues mean for the future of Indian Football
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