The fifth edition of the Indian Women's League (IWL), the premier women's football league of the country, is set to kick-off on 21st April, 2021 in Odisha, sources close the development confirmed to The Bridge.
The tournament, which features the top clubs from different states all over the country, has become the go-to event for female footballers and has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years. The qualifiers for the same have started in various parts of India as well, including Karnataka, where Kickstart FC won the state qualifiers, Bihar, Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal amongst others.
Gokulam Kerala FC, who dethroned Sethu FC last year, are the current defending champions of IWL.
Earlier, a few weeks back, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had announced that the league will be hosted by the Odisha government. AIFF president Praful Patel had expressed his gratitude by stating, "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 the entire sports department of Odisha for extending all the support and 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 showcase their talent and provide them the option of taking up football as a career," he had further added.
With the U17 Women's World Cup and the AFC Women's Asia Cup scheduled to be hosted in the country next year, it is imperative for the federation to continue its work for the development of Women's football. Ideally, the IWL presents the AIFF with the perfect opportunity to scout and discover new talents ahead of next year's flagship tournaments.