How the Indian Women's League started
There has been an Indian Women's Football championship since 1991. This was the top women's football event in the country and was the equivalent of the men's Santosh trophy, where state teams competed against each other. However, there was no club-based and organized women's football league. There was a state football league in Manipur, though, which was founded in 1976.
Things changed for the better when the Indian Football Association of Bengal launched the Calcutta Women's League in 1993. The years 1998 and 1999 saw the launch of women's leagues in Mumbai and Goa, respectively.
There was a renewed effort to create an Indian Super League (ISL)-style women's league in 2014, after the success of the Indian women's team in the SAAF championship. Pune and Bangalore FC came forward to join a women's league as and when it was created.
In April 2016, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced its plans to create the Indian Women's League. The goal was to start with six teams, and later expand the League to eight teams. The football body organized a workshop on this subject. Five teams from the ISL and three from the I-League attended this workshop. These were:
- Delhi Dynamos
- Chennaiyan FC
- Kerala Blasters
- FC Pune City
- Athletico de Kolkata
- Bangalore FC
- Mumbai FC
- Aizawl FC
After the workshop, the AIFF announced there would be ten teams competing initially. There would be two groups, each comprising five teams, and the top two winners would qualify for the finals of the Indian Women's League.
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