The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is decentralising youth leagues by handing over the responsibility to the state associations from the 2020-21 season.
In a set of new directives to the state associations, the apex governing body of football in India has instructed them to set up a league committee which will be responsible for conducting the various youth leagues. The body will formulate the regulations for the league, deliberate and oversee the day to day operations and decide on any relevant issues.
The federation has also allowed unaccredited clubs/academies to participate in the preliminary rounds, which will result in an increase in the number of participating teams. Given the situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it must be noted that getting your accreditation done in time for the upcoming season might be a challenge
Until the last season, the AIFF organised the preliminary round of the Sub-Junior, Junior, and Elite League by dividing the participating teams into various groups according to their state or city as it deemed fit. Subsequently, the group champions would qualify for the final round which would then be played at a central venue.Article continues below
As per the new move, the onus will also be on the state associations to ensure and be a part of grassroots development – something that has been a concern in the recent few years.
With the implementation of the new guidelines, it would see each states organising their respective age-group leagues in a format decided by the newly formed league committee in every state. Each of the state champions will lock horns in a final round which will then be conducted by the Indian FA.
“This is an extremely well thought-out move by the federation. You need to spread the sport across the length and breadth of the country. With unaccredited clubs also being allowed to participate in the league, the number of players getting competitive match time will also increase manifold,” said an official of a state association.
Only AIFF accredited teams can qualify for the final round, with the exception that should an unaccredited club/academy qualify for the final round on merit, a one-time exemption will be given to that team. But this exemption will not be applicable to any such participant who has any financial or de facto link to an existing club/academy already accredited with AIFF previously.
The guidelines also direct the associations to establish a Disciplinary Committee to deal with all matters related to the discipline on and off the field of play based on the association’s disciplinary code.
An Appeals Committee shall also be formed by the state association to hear appeals lodged against decisions passed by the state association’s disciplinary committee.
An additional slot may further be provided to the runner-up team of the state leagues based on the availability of slots in the play-offs to the final round of the concerned AIFF youth league.
Overseas players in youth leagues
A team participating in state youth leagues can register a maximum of three foreign/PIO (Players of Indian Origin) /OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) players.
It has also been made mandatory for all teams to register a minimum of six ‘home grown’ players out of their total list of thirty players in each category. A home grown player is defined as any player whose place of birth (State/UT, as per the birth certificate/passport) is the same as the location of the club/academy. If the participant fails to sign six players it will not be allowed to take part in the competition.