Shillong, Jun 26: After a highly successful inaugural edition of the Meghalaya Baby League in 2018, the Meghalaya Football Association is pleased to announce that the second season will be launched in July this year and will be held in six districts across the state.
Applications for clubs and organisations wishing to take part in MBL 2019 will be announced shortly.
Over 1,600 boys and girls registered for the inaugural season, which saw the 12 teams play more than 1,300 matches on weekends over seven months.
Last season was a tremendous success in bringing together children from different backgrounds from ages 4 to 13 to play competitive football and spur their overall development. The MFA was also happy to see the overwhelming support received from parents and other community members in supporting the inaugural season.
The first Meghalaya Baby League was a pilot project of the All India Football Federation Grassroots Development Programme and financially supported by Tata Trusts. This year’s edition will continue to received the technical back-up of the AIFF and will be supported by Tata Trusts and the Government of Meghalaya.
The league will be expanded to 54 teams across six districts and eight locations from a 12-team league held in the inaugural year. The number of teams in the Shillong leg of the league will be expanded to 24 and will be held in three different locations in and around the state capital, while the league will also be held in five other districts around the state, namely West Jaintia Hills, East Jaintia Hills, Ri-Bhoi, West Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills.
The target for 2019 will be to have around 5,000 children taking part across Meghalaya in the flagship grassroots football event, making it India’s largest Baby League by far. There will be around 1,000 matches in the Greater Shillong area, with roughly 750 matches in the other districts. The final round of the MBL will be held in Shillong towards the end of the year.
The MBL will run for six months in Greater Shillong and for four months in the other centres. Like last year, there will be five age categories (4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13), but this season the 4-5 age group will be non-competitive and will instead focus on providing a fun introduction of the sport to children in this age bracket and help them develop their game.
Operating the league in new districts will be a major step forward in building a grassroots football culture for the benefit of Meghalaya’s children and the MFA is committed to working closely with the government and new districts in carrying out the expansion successfully.
“The introduction of the Meghalaya Baby League was a real gamechanger in terms of grassroots development. Having children from the age of 4 upwards playing in mixed teams and taking part in regular games for half the year is vital to their overall development. The aim isn’t to get them all to be professional footballers, but to give them a sense of teamwork, camaraderie, fair play, respect for one another as well as self-respect, which is all part of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy society. We have seen overwhelming support from parents and friends and family in the inaugural season and look forward to taking the Baby League to other parts of the state,” Meghalaya Football Association CEO Arki Nongrum said.
(Photo contributed by the Meghalaya Football Association)