Meet the 16 teams in the Indian Women’s League 2023

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Gokulam Kerala has won the Indian Women’s League for the second time in a row.

The Indian Women’s League, the country’s top-flight club league for women’s football, will kick off its 2023 season on April 26 with 16 clubs divided into two groups of eight. The matches they will be play at two venues in Ahmedabad. Transstadia and the Shahibaug Police Stadium, between 8 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.

Let’s take a look at all 16 Indian Women’s League clubs this season:

A GROUP of Indian Women’s League

East Bengal Football Club (Kolkata, West Bengal)

East Bengal may be a long-standing fixture in Indian football. But their women’s squad has gone in and out of existence over the previous two decades. They founded in 2002, dissolved in 2004, reformed in 2019, and will disband once more in 2021. However, this is their first season in the Indian Women’s League , which was added at the request of the IFA. In March, they won the Kanyashree Cup (Calcutta Women’s Football League). Sujata Kar, a former India women’s international, is their coach.

HOPS Football Club (Najafgarh, Delhi)

HOPS (House of Power Soccer) is a football academy. It was managed by the Dharan Foundation Trust that was previously known as South West Delhi Football Club. However, there is no entry fee. They won the Delhi Women’s Premier League to qualify for their first IWL season, winning 16 of 16 matches. The majority of the players are from Haryana, and the club is led by president Sanjay Yadav.

Kahaani Football Club (Ahmedabad, Gujarat)

Kahaani FC qualified for their IWL debut by winning the State Women’s League cup for the open age group in September. Manisha Shah founded the Kahaani Sports Academy in 2006. Primarily however to enable her children acquire proper football coaching after migrating from Hong Kong to India. In addition, they have a variety of junior and sub-junior divisions for both boys and girls. Lalita Saini is the head coach of the women’s squad.

Mata Rukmani FC (Bastar, Chattisgarh)

Mata Rukmani is not your normal football club. It was founded as an endeavour to enable impoverished females participate in sports. The football side of things is handled by Ardour Football Academy. It is run by social activist Dharampal Saini out of an ashram in Bastar. The three-time Chhattisgarh league winners made their IWL debut last year, finishing 11th out of 12 teams. Last year, the Kerala Blasters women signed four of its players.

Gokulam Kerala Football Club (Kozhikode, Kerala)

Gokulam Kerala FC, the two-time reigning champions, are undoubtedly the greatest women’s team in the country. With facilities and investment comparable to their male counterparts in the I-League. They may be missing several players this season (including Manisha Kalyan, who made history in Europe). But they will still start as favourites, especially with the return of Nepal’s Sabitra Bhandari and India playmaker Indumathi Kathiresan. They were the first Indian club to compete in Asia, in the AFC Women’s Club Championship in 2021. But were barred from competing in the 2022 edition due to FIFA’s suspension of India.

Misaka United Football Club (Bengaluru, Karnataka)

Founded in 2011, Misaka United, has placed second in the Karnataka Women’s League for the previous two years. And almost missed out on an IWL spot. The team will make its IWL debut this season after finishing just two points behind Kickstart in the state league. Owing to Kickstart’s straight qualifying from previous season’s IWL.

Mumbai Knights Football Club (Mumbai, Maharashtra)

After defeating reigning champions PIFA FC in the WIFA Women’s Premier League, Mumbai Knights FC advanced to their first IWL. Former Indian international Steven Dias coached the squad, which also won the league in Mumbai, going undefeated in both championships. Deepu Kesavan owns it, and Ambernath United plays in the I League’s second level. Dias will not coach the Knights in the IWL due to a clash between the men’s I-League and the IWL.

Sports Odisha (Bhubaneswar, Odisha)

Odisha will have two teams in the IWL for the second consecutive season. Sports Odisha is a government-owned team comprised primarily of state residents. They came in third place in the Odisha Women’s League, trailing only Odisha FC and East Coast Railway. Captain Manisha Naik led the way with seven goals in ten attempts. Sports Odisha finished fourth in the previous IWL season, despite having Pyari Xaxa on its roster.

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B Group

Celtic Queens Football Club (Pondicherry)

Celtic Queens FC, a brand new club, was created in June 2022 by Jincy Mathew. They were invited to the IWL after winning the Pondicherry Women’s League Championship in 2022. It was a dominating season in which they won five of five games, scored 24 goals, and surrendered none.

Eastern Sporting Union FC (Imphal, Manipur)

ESU, the inaugural IWL winners in 2017, has returned to the league after a two-year absence. They had not played the IWL . After reaching two consecutive finals (finishing as runners-up in 2018). Failing to qualify in 2019 and 2020 and then failing to qualify for the 2022 edition. They are one of the sport’s oldest institutions, having been founded in 1946. Yumnam Kamala Devi, who withdrew from international football following the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Due to a fractious relationship with the institution but will be the focus this year. Kamala Devi and Gokulam Kerala won the IWL title.

Churchill Brothers FC (Margao, Goa)

Churchills will make their IWL debut after winning the Goa Women’s League this season. The Goa league, on the other hand, had only three teams. Churchill have subsequently bolstered their formerly mostly Goan squad. With a mix of young and experienced players from outside the state. They will be led by veteran Laura Estibeiro. And coached by Girijadevi Desai (who previously coached Goa at the senior nationals).

Kickstart Football Club (Bengaluru, Karnataka)

Kickstart, the four-time reigning winners of the Karnataka Women’s League. Finished third in the IWL previous year, after Gokulam Kerala FC and Sethu FC. They will be seeking to improve on their IWL performance from the previous two seasons. With the signings of India internationals Dalima Chhibber, Sweety Devi, and Linthoingambi Devi this season.

Lords FA Kochi (Kochi, Kerala)

Lords FA upset double national winners Gokulam Kerala in the state league this season. Winning the state championship and qualifying for their first IWL campaign. In the final, they defeated Gokulam 5-2, spearheaded by former Gokulam star Win Theingi Tun of Myanmar. Tun will be the star to watch out for from Lords this IWL. But they will be weakened by the loss of Indumathi Kathiresan. Whose playmaking position will be filled up by Nepal international Anita Basnet.

Odisha Football Club (Bhubaneswar, Odisha)

Odisha FC will compete in their debut IWL season after winning the Odisha Women’s League the previous season. They are one of two ISL teams (together with East Bengal) that have teams in the IWL. Crispin Chhetri coaches the team, which is captained by Bala Devi, Manisa Panna, Pyari Xaxa, and Anju Tamang. Cynthia Marcondes dos Santos of Brazil and Faustina Worwornyo Akpo of Ghana will bring flair to the team. They begin as one of the championship favourites.

Sethu FC (Madurai, Tamil Nadu)

Champions of the IWL in 2018-19 and runners-up the previous year. Sethu are one of the country’s current powerhouses in women’s football. This season, however, they begin as underdogs. Since the loss of talents like Indumathi Kathiresan (to rivals Gokulam Kerala) has weakened their group. They will now rely on youthful talent like Sumati Kumari and Kajal D’Souza.

CRPF (Jalandhar, Punjab)

The Central Reserve Police Force is an institutional squad. It will compete in the IWL this season after coming third in the All India Police Football Tournament in Kashmir earlier this year. They are led by Prem Thapa and will begin the season as heavy underdogs.

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