New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) 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,” 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.
“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,” he added.
The 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.
Another aspect of these two Golden Baby Leagues in Manipur has been the coming together of the community to help organise the events, with contributions coming in from multiple quarters.
“Many local sponsors came out in support and contributed in-kind in various ways, such as transportation. Many parents pooled in to contribute equipment such as markers, cones, balls and goalposts. Even onlookers would see and chip in with small items such as refreshments for the children. It was really heartening to see the community come together as a whole,” Rabisankar said.