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A remote place in Mizoram, Champai near Indo-Myanmar border is leading its way towards establishing gender equality through the medium of Golden Baby Leagues.
Mizoram's Golden Baby League is an initiative by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) aiming to provide a platform for the new generation of players, boys and girls, who start playing football from a very young age.
"We started the Golden Baby Leagues with mixed-gender matches, and it had a magical response from parents in the locality. At the end of the season, you won't believe, the highest scorer was an 8-year-old girl," Prakhar Soni said, as per an AIFF media release.
The Young Legends League Golden Baby Leagues is one of the first Baby League programs across the country and the brainchild of 8one Foundation. Over the last two years, they had unearthed some talented kids who were, in the process, roped in by the likes of Bengaluru FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs, Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools.
"Champhai has produced national level players like Robert Lalthlamuana, Lalruatthara and many more. That's one of the main reasons why we zeroed down on this district. Mizoram's grassroots football structure has been exceptionally robust. The District Football Association of Champhai has provided us with their database so we could kick-off the YLL Golden Baby Leagues program," Soni stated.
A ten-year-long MoU was also signed by the foundation with the Mizoram state football association so to kick-off the project providing an opportunity for the young players to flag off the same in Champhai.
The matches are organised on Saturday so that the academic curriculum of the kids is not affected.
"Creating a footballer is not our solitary target. We have always stressed on the holistic development of the kids as well as others, who are part of the entire project. We appoint senior boys or girls as referees so they can hone their decision-making as well as technical skills," Soni said.