Bengaluru, Jan 23 (IANS) The fourth edition of the Indian Womens League (IWL) gets underway at the Bangalore Football Stadium from Friday. The 21-day long tournament will culminate with the finals being played on February 14.
The first-ever rolling trophy for the league was unveiled in a glittering ceremony in the city on Thursday. Captains of the 12 teams from 10 states were present along with Indian women's national team coach Maymol Rocky, league CEO Sunando Dhar and Karnataka State Football Association General Secretary Satya Narayan.
Kryphsa FC and Kickstart FC will lock horns in the first match on Friday. The 12 teams have been divided into two groups (A and B) of six teams.
Group A would consist of Kickstart FC (Karnataka), FC Kolhapur (Maharashtra), Krypsha FC (Manipur), BBK DAV FC (Punjab), Sethu FC (Tamil Nadu) and Baroda FA ( Gujarat) while Group B will comprise of Kenkre FC (Maharashtra), Gokulam Kerala FC (Kerala), Odisha Police FC (Odisha), Bangalore United FC (Karnataka), Sreebhumi FC (West Bengal), Bidesh XI FC (Goa). Two games will be played each day at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Indian Football Team Facebook page.
Each team will play a total of 5 matches in the round-robin league and the top two teams from each group will make their way to the semi-finals. The semi-final winners will play the finals on 14th February 2020, which will kick-off at 2 p.m..
Over Rs 20 lakh in cash prizes is due to be won in the 4th IWL. The champions will walk away with the rolling trophy and medals along with a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh, while the runners up will get a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. The tournament MVP (Most Valuable Player) would earn Rs 1.25 lakh while the best goalkeeper receives Rs 1 lakh. The winner of the Emerging Player award would earn Rs 75,000. The Hero of the Match for each game will earn Rs 5000.
Rocky said that the IWL will be a place where many young players can make a mark in a year when India will host the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. "The IWL will be one of the key places for all of us to analyse talent and consider them for future roles with the national teams. The competition level in the league has risen by leaps and bounds over the last three years and we hope to see another intriguing season here in Bengaluru. I wish all the teams best of luck for the upcoming tournament," she added.
Elaborating on the rolling trophy Dhar said, "A rolling trophy is something which always augurs well with players and the contest gets intense amongst them. To align the premier women's league competition in India with other leagues, we have decided to shift to a running trophy this season and it'll surely push the girls further to give an extra bit on the field to lift it on 14th February."
N A Harris, President, KSFA, lauded the AIFF's decision to organise the final round of the tournament in Bengaluru. "On behalf of the KSFA (Karnataka State Football Association), I would like to thank AIFF for choosing Bengaluru as the host for the final round of IWL 2019-20. It'll surely give a chance to the football-loving crowd of Bengaluru to witness the best women football players in action over the next few days," he said.
He added, "Two teams representing Bengaluru in Hero IWL isn't only going to help women's football in Karnataka but will also add a bounty point for the entire tournament. It'll surely inspire more girls from the state of Karnataka to play the beautiful game with more seriousness."