Some of the well-known Institutional teams, who once dominated the Indian domestic football scene and produced an array of top-level players, have expressed their interest to play in the AIFF Institutional League that will kick off later this year.
Among the big names, who could once again be seen in action on the pitch are Border Security Force (BSF), Indian Navy, Food Corporation of India (FCI), ESIC, Chennai Customs, Comptroller and Auditor General, Delhi, and others. BSF were once a crack side, that bagged the Durand Cup seven times during their heydays and produced players like Manjit Singh, Narender Gurung, and may others. Equally strong were FCI, whose line-up once was packed up with players like Atanu Bhattacharya, Krishanu Dey, Bikash Panji, Victor Amalraj, Babu Mani and many others.
The Executive Committee of the All India Football Federation, on April 14, 2023, after extensive discussions, had arrived at a decision to give equal importance to the amateur structure in football. The Committee felt it will raise the level of competitive opportunities and ensure security for the players at this level.
To execute this plan, the Executive Committee decided to introduce an Institutional League from the current season. The winners of the league, where the teams will be decided in a bidding process, may get an opportunity to play in the cup tournament at the National Level. The Committee was confident the introduction of the Institutional League will help the legacy institutional teams receive heritage treatment.
Keeping in line with the Executive Committee decision, the AIFF has decided to start a dialogue with the possible institutional teams interested to be a part of this new initiative. After an open dialogue, AIFF will finalise a Request for Proposal (RFP) document, which is tentatively scheduled to be published by the first week of September. AIFF intends to finalise the selection of teams by mid-October 2023.
To understand the planning, composition, and aspirations of the Institutional teams across the country, a meeting will be called in the last week of August where the institutions willing to spread their wings through the beautiful game will be invited to discuss and air their views.