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AFC nominates I-League for Best Developing Football League of the Year award

AIFF Media
489   //    11 Oct 2018, 18:47 IST

Clubs like Minerva Punjab (in pic) and Aizawl FC have won the I-League in recent years
Clubs like Minerva Punjab (in pic) and Aizawl FC have won the I-League in recent years

The Asian Football Confederation has shortlisted the I-League among the top three nominations for the SPIA Award in the “Best Developing Football League of the Year” category. The SPIA Conference and Awards Gala will take place from November 19-20, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

By name, the I-League - and not the Indian Super League (ISL) - is considered the topmost division of football in the country as the champions are awarded a slot in an AFC Champions League qualifier. The next edition will be played among 11 clubs and will begin from October 26.

The All India Football Federation president Praful Patel was overjoyed that the I-League has been nominated at the AFC for an award. "It is very encouraging that the work of AIFF and the I-League department has got recognition by being nominated for this prestigious award. I would like to congratulate all stakeholders especially the clubs who have been an integral part of this league,” he said in a statement.

Kushal Das, general secretary of the AIFF echoed the views of Patel. "I am very happy to see that our initiative for developing I-League pan India and introducing the Club Licensing criteria has had the necessary impact, and that the I-League has been nominated for the Award.

"I would like to congratulate everyone who has been part of the League – FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited), the Clubs, the sponsors, all other stakeholders and my colleagues in AIFF without whose support this wouldn’t have been possible,” he added.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar added: “This is excellent news for Indian football. We have been striving hard over the years and this nomination is only a motivation for us to do better.”

The AIFF had earlier won the AFC Developing Member Association of the Year Award in 2016, and the AFC President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football in 2014.

The 2018-19 edition of the I-League kicks-off on October 26, 2018. Chennai City FC will host the AIFF's developmental side Indian Arrows at 5 pm IST.

Minerva Punjab, the defending champions, have their first game scheduled for October 28 against Churchill Brothers at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Chandigarh, at 2 pm IST.