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The city of Bengaluru will witness its first ever Baby League - a player development initiative launched by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in June 2017, called The Community League. Launched on July 1st, 2018, The Community League will host competitive matches featuring 30 teams in three age categories at the grassroots level.
The concept of the Baby League is drawn from nations in south and central America like Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Colombia, which have contributed some of the best footballers playing in the top European Leagues. This programme is intended to involve participation from children starting from the age of five years, by creating a platform for competition and as well as skills development. The Baby League is at the centre of AIFF’s strategy to reboot the grassroots development of football in the country, and The Community League (TCL) in Bengaluru is the latest addition, and the first in Karnataka, to join Mumbai (Maharashtra), Champal (Mizoram) & Shillong (Meghalaya), where the league has already been run with tremendous success.
TCL is officially recognised and supported by All India Football Federation and Karnataka State Football Association (KSFA). Richard Hood, Head of Player Development, AIFF was in attendance at the launch. The first game week saw ~400 kids participate in a total of 15 games.
Richard Hood, in his address at the launch event quoted, “I am extremely pleased that Bengaluru is finally adopting the concept of the Baby League. The city has always had tremendous potential and the Baby League is something that will help strengthen the existing football culture all the way to its roots.”
TCL has been conceptualised and organised by the Federation for Community Sports (FCS), an organisation dedicated to elevate the importance of grassroots level sports in India. When asked about what the federation looks to achieve, Sunanda Das, President of FCS quoted, “The FCS aims to empower sports persons and the youth by creating platforms that not only uplift players, but also involves the community in the overall success and journey these young individuals. The role of a community is often under-looked and at FCS, we believe that the community can be the accelerator that fosters an ecosystem that nurtures talent, which is why we have named our fist initiative The Community League.”
Sarthak Dubey, Technical Officer, TCL was quoted saying “We hope that the TCL will be a revolutionary initiative that in Karnataka that not only pioneers the AIFF’s Baby League strategy in Karnataka, but also fosters an environment for player development. Our vision is to provide a platform for children which allows them to express themselves on the field and develop skills at a young age that Indian Football lacks today.”