New Delhi [India], November 1 (ANI): Since its launch in 2018 the Golden Baby Leagues project has sparked a revolution across the length and breadth of India with over 35,000 children taking part in the 2019-20 season itself.
The initiative has engaged and brought together a number of stakeholders - from academics to clubs to schools to companies to NGOs to local football authorities - such as the Lunglei District Football Association (LDFA) in Mizoram.
The latest edition saw nearly 300 school children in a 12-km radius in Zobawk take part and while it certainly has helped the young ones forge a bond with the 'Beautiful Game,' another key development has been the local community coming together to help make the league a resounding success.
"Becoming part of the league has also helped the children build character and become open. Earlier, some of them were shy and not very friendly. However, they have changed a lot in a good way after playing with their teammates in the Golden Baby League," All India Football Federation quoted League Operator Lalthawmliana Chawngthu as saying.
"The togetherness in the local community has been such a valuable feature of our Golden Baby League. Starting with the parents the league has influenced them a lot and we see many parents come to watch their children play and support them on the field. They are the fans for the young children and create a special atmosphere during the matches," he added.
The parents have an important role to play in the organization and operations of the event as well -- with everyone pooling in resources along with local authorities, leaders and governmental organizations.
"The contribution from the parents has been immense. Not only do they support the children, but they also contribute in cash and kind -- such as playing kits and equipment. Local organizations and even MLAs have also contributed to the successful organization of the GBL. Even the Mizoram Football Association (MFA) organized two seminars on the Golden Baby Leagues in our district," Chawngthu explained.
One of the key objectives of the GBL project is to grow a new generation of players that start playing football from a very young age and looking at the two editions of the LDFA Golden Baby League that have taken place so far, the results have been highly encouraging.
"The response from the young kids has been excellent. Many of them have continued to play football regularly after playing for the first time in the Golden Baby League. We are confident that after 3-4 years we will be able to produce many players who can represent Mizoram at the National level," Chawngthu expressed.
"We are looking to increase participation from girls in the next season. We are laying a lot of emphasis on this aspect. From what we have seen there is great potential and enthusiasm among the girls, and in the near future, they can even go as far as to become national team players," he concluded. (ANI)