It doesn’t make sense especially when we consider the rankings of the men’s and women’s teams. Despite being ranked a low 169 in the FIFA Rankings, the men still have their I-league. On the other hand, women have squat despite being ranked 52nd in the world. As we see it, the realization of India's world cup dream is more probable to be achieved by the women, and yet they are denied the resources, facilities and infrastructure that the men take for granted.
However, the state of women’s football in the country is very bad. In fact, many will be surprised to know that it even exists. But it not only exists, but is definitely popular and widespread and that too without any stimulation or support. A majority of the women who play the game belong to the lower socio-economic strata of the society. The game doesn’t offer them pay or job opportunities, but they continue playing for the love of the game.
There are hardly any tournaments and leagues for women. All states are supposed to have a state league, as per the AIFF guidelines, but hardly any of them execute it. For a fact, the capital hasn’t had its state league in 5 years. The only other tournaments for women are the Under 19 and Senior Women’s Football Nationals that are held once a year. The National Games also has women’s football as one of its events, but it happens to be a closed event, and only a select few states are invited to play. There are no monetary benefits or growth opportunities for the players, for these women are neither treated nor considered as players. The condition and state is bad.
The question arises – if men were subjected to pursue football under the same conditions i.e. no pay, status, facilities, bad grounds, one tournament a year, opportunity to improve, and no career opportunity and future benefits, would theycontinue PLAYING? Is the love of the game a strong enough reason to drive a player to subject themselves to intensive training, discipline and hard work when they know that there will be no reward for their efforts in the end? The answer is NO. Then why are women any different from men? Is the constitutional right to gender equality only restricted to paper? Why is it that these players are being denied their right to play?
It has been done before, but it’s just waiting to happen in India. There isn’t any lack of interest or shortage of players in our country. What is lacking is the support and initiative to mobilise and nurture these players to their full potential. So, we demand, from our government and the governing football body (AIFF), a national professional football league for women with the same platform as the men’s league. There has been enough discrimination. Give us our right to be equals. Give us our league.