in India dates back to the early 1970s. Football is a hugely popular game and is played extensively in India. Though, the game is predominantly being played by men in India, the women of India also play the game for quite a few years now. In the history of women`s football in Asia, India has always been a front-runner. The Indian national women`s football team played its first ever international match against the Singapore team in which it lost with a score of 0-5.
History of Women`s Football in India
The women of Bengal started playing football during the 1970s and soon, the women from the other states also followed the feat. Previously the state of West Bengal
was one of the leaders in spreading the popularity of women`s football in India. The women football players from Manipur
later got a huge popularity during the last decade and they have also outcast the women from Bengal in terms of performance. The first Senior National Championship for women in India was held in 1975 in Lucknow
, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh
. Apart from the national championship, India has also organised the third Asian Women`s Championships in 1979. Held in the southern Indian port city of Calicut, a number of six teams namely Australia, Hong Kong, Mulan Taipei, Malaysia and two teams from the host India participated in the championship. The Mulan Taipei team won the championship and one of the team of India finished as runners-up.
Famous Women`s Football Teams of India
The Manipur women have dominated the women`s football in India so far and it has won a total of five national championship titles so far, including consecutive wins in the last four championship finals against Bengal. The Manipur women`s football team has already established itself as the undisputed champions and the Manipuri women also forms the core group of the Indian women`s national team, along with the Bengali women footballers. The game of football has progressed exceptionally well in Manipur, as the women of the state have participated actively in every tournament and football is also the most popular game in the state. Apart from Manipur and Bengal, the women from the states like Orissa
also play football quite extensively. Most of these teams have been participating in the national championships on a regular basis, since its inception.
Women`s Football Tournaments
Apart from the Senior Women National Championship, there are also similar national championships for junior teams. These championships include the Junior Girls National Championship (for under 19s) and the under-17 Girls National Championship. There is also a regional league being organised in Kolkata
(previously called as Calcutta) from 2001-02. The league is named as the Calcutta Women`s Football League and the famous Kolkata football clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan regularly participated in this tournament.
Management of Women`s Football in India
Women`s football in India was being run and managed by the Women`s Football Federation of India (WFFI) until the early 1990s, before the WFFI was absorbed into the All Indian Football Federation
(AIFF). At present, though a large number of Indian women footballers have got international recognition and fame, the total state of women`s football in India is not very well. The Indian women footballers are lacking sponsors in a big way and as a result, the Indian women national football team is not being able to make as many international tours as needed. The Indian women national football team is currently ranked 55 in the FIFA world rankings.
Tournaments Played by Indian National Women`s Football Team
Indian national women`s football team has participated in a large number of regional and international tournaments like the Asian Women`s Championships. The Indian women`s football team participated in the tournament in the years 1979 and 1985 and became runner-ups in both editions. Though the team tried a number of times, it has not become successful to qualify for the World Cup, till now. However, the team had reached the semi-finals of the Continental Cup in the years of 1979 and 1981. A new phase in women`s football in India started in March 2011 with remarkable improvements. It took part in the qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics in the year 2011 and in their very first match they defeated their strong rivals Bangladesh. They registered a tie in the second round against Uzbekistan but unfortunately lost the match in the third round which led to their exit from the 2012 Olympics. In the year 2013 India ranked third in Women`s Asian Cup Qualifiers.