AIFF President says introduction of I-League 3 is ‘a transformative step’ for Indian football

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The All-India Football Federation (AIFF), President, Kalyan Chaubey, has called the introduction of I-League 3 – a bridge for semi-professional clubs to turn pro by competing for national honours — ‘a transformative step’ for Indian football.

Kalyan Chaubey complemented Sporting Club Bengaluru for scripting a dream run by gaining three back-to-back promotional spots in one season as they rose from being champion of a state league to earning a place in the upcoming edition of I-League in 2024-25.

“SC Bengaluru story is a testament to the balanced domestic pyramid we now have, which makes it possible for the club to get a jumpstart to their campaign in such fashion,” Chaubey said.

Reviewing a near complete men’s competition for 2023-24, the AIFF President said that the changes brought in for the season will have a wide-ranging positive impact on the domestic football competition in years to come.

“We have already witnessed what a SC Bengaluru could achieve in one year. I believe the introduction of I-League 3 was the missing piece of the puzzle, which we now have put in place in our structure. We believe that this (I-League 3) foundation is a ‘transformative step for Indian football’, as it complements the existing layers of competitions interlinked in perfect balance to provide a supporting and progressive pyramid,” said Kalyan Chaubey.

While SC Bengaluru has won the I-League 2 and confirmed their promotion to I-League for the upcoming season, the second spot is turning out to be a much-promised two-way battle between Dempo SC (24 pts) and Sudeva Delhi FC (23 pts). The I-League 2 final round will be played on April 27, 2024, with simultaneous four-match kick-offs in Goa (2), Mumbai, and Bengaluru, the AIFF informed in a release on Monday.

“SC Bengaluru will be a club to watch for next season. Who knows a debutant I-League club could be knocking on the doors of ISL as early as the 2025-26 season?” says Chaubey, adding, “This year we had only 25 teams competing in I-League 3. I hope next season, we will be able to showcase higher numbers. This will encourage states to conduct their top leagues in time.”

“Today we have a complete structure from sub-junior (Under 13) to the top division. We have stepped up our domestic competition to a very competitive one. Our primary objective was to sow the seeds in the first year, which we believe will provide a stable structure and secondly will make our domestic seasons very competitive with more game time,” said Kalyan Chaubey.

Chaubey feels that it’s for the first time since 2008 that India now has a complete layered structure for men’s football, which interlinks at each stage and provides a progressive pathway for clubs and players.



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