Shillong, May 18: The inaugural Meghalaya Baby League will be formally launched at 3PM at the JN Stadium here tomorrow.
Entry is free and all are welcome to witness the inauguration. Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh will be the chief guest on the occasion. Kushal Das, All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary; Biswanath Sinha, Zonal Head – East & North East, Tata Trusts; Larsing Ming Sawyan, Meghalaya Football Association (MFA) President and AIFF Vice-President, will be some of the other dignitaries present.
To launch the brand-new initiative in fine style, the first match will be played at the stadium following the inauguration between ENE Falcons and JNS Jaguars. The former is the team launched by Meghalaya football icon Eugeneson Lyngdoh, while the latter is the team from the JNS Grassroots Centre.
All the teams have chosen snappy names in keeping with the goal of getting youngsters involved. The other 10 sides are Kickstart Football Academy Rhinos, Touchline NE Cubs, Unified Gorkha Gators, Nongthymmai GC Scorpions, Langsning Greenergy Lions, Nongtrai Cheetahs, Mawlatbah SC Hawks, Littlestar Clouded Leopards, Sunnydale School Doves and Wahlakhiat Bulls.
The Baby League is the joint initiative of one of India’s oldest philanthropic organisations – Tata Trusts – the MFA and the AIFF and aims to give children from the age of 4 to 13 regular exposure to competitive football over a period of six months in order to develop their game, instil confidence and create a base of players that can be drawn on and taken to the next level in their teenage years.
The format will be a league-cum-knockout arrangement, with five-a-side and seven-a-side matches, depending on the age group.
The 4-5 years and 5-6 years age groups will be five-a-side with a minimum of 10 players in each team. The 8-9 years, 10-11 years and 12-13 years age groups will be seven-a-side and will have to have a minimum of 12 players per team.
The league will be held on weekends and other holidays, with the possibility of Fridays as well so long as this does not affect the children’s school schedule. A minimum of 10 percent of a team’s squad must be made up of girls.