After clinching the first IWL title Odisha FC now looks for youth development

The team defeated Kickstart FC on Sunday to win the title.

Odisha FC became the first ISL club to have clinched the Indian Women’s League (IWL) in its second year and ensured a berth in the AFC Cup Women’s Championship next year. 

The team defeated Kickstart FC 6-0 on Monday. Lynda Kom scored hat-trick, Pyari Xaxa (2) and Karthika Angamuthu scored one for the winner. 

The club after this significant victory is reportedly looking for a long-term youth development program to explore potential girl footballers across the state and groom them. 

The club's head of women's football and Grassroute Hilda Gurung when asked about the issue described, "Yes, we have plans to start a youth development program professionally in future. But nothing has been finalized yet." 

Along with the IWL title, Odisha FC women's football can also boast of promoting women's football in Odisha. Hilda opined, "Sixty percent of footballers of our team this season were from Odisha. This has been an inspiring statistics for us. We also want more women footballers to come up from this state and bring glory for the club, for the state, and the country in the future."

The team’s coach Crispin Chettri also agreed with the point that grooming local potential footballers is the club’s one of major aims. The experienced coach who joined Odisha FC women last season also expressed happiness revealing, “I can say the three Odisha footballers of our team were the find-outs this season. They have been nurtured by me since the last season I joined Odisha FC.”

He added, "Two of them namely Jasoda Munda and Juli Kishan were so impressive that they were even called up in the national preparatory camp. I feel this is an attainment I earned in my stint with the team since last season.”

Odisha FC although has a separate and exclusive infrastructure for its women’s football, thanks to the state government’s constant support, does not have any residential academy for women’s football. Hilda says it might happen in the future.

When asked whether the club has plans to make its women footballers’ salary at par with the team’s men footballers, Hilda explained, “That can only be possible if women’s football gets proper a commercial promotion through the help of sponsorships, the viewership through the live-streaming of the matches and simultaneously, the more competitions for the women." 

Hilda added, "Unless the club earns more it should be difficult for any club owners to give a salary-hike that can be compared to the country's professional men footballers, playing in the ISL." 

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