New Delhi, Nov 29 (Agency) Since its inception, the Golden Baby Leagues initiative, started by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in 2018, has helped light a footballing spark among young children across the country and in rural Manipur, they are also providing hope to families of a brighter future. “Our objective of starting these Golden Baby Leagues was to introduce underprivileged children to football and give them an opportunity to play under the banner of the AIFF. Almost everyone here is passionate about football but most people come from underprivileged backgrounds and do not have money to buy even stockings.
“Our aim is to provide access to such children, which can enable them to keep working in the sport and make a name for themselves in the future,” Rabisankar Singh Chingtham, who is the League Operator for the Manipur Golden Baby League and LSDC Golden Baby League in Andro and Laimapokpam respectively, told www.the-aiff.com. He continued, “In a few years, we expect more and more children to join us, which will be wonderful for the sport. The previous season was a great start and we want to keep building on it. With time, we want to prepare generations of footballers in the future.” The Golden Baby League caters to age-groups from U-6 to U-12 and more than 35,000 children took part in leagues all over India in the 2019-20 season. Over 800 children across four age groups participated in these two Golden Baby Leagues in Manipur last season, often drawing a large number of viewers — even more than local senior games. According to Rabisankar, the feedback has been highly positive and the children are eager to return to the field soon.
“Initially, the parents weren’t as interested but once they started coming in to watch their children, we would see each kid bring 8-10 people with them and we would have a large crowd for each game, enjoying themselves. I still get phone calls every day asking me when the Golden Baby League will start. We hope to begin as soon as possible when the situation permits and hopefully, even extend them to more neighbouring regions,” he said.