Playing Hero IWL was a fine experience, says Kickstart owner Laxman Bhattarai

NEW DELHI: Kickstart FC were dubbed as one of the underdog sides ahead of this season’s Hero IWL. But they possibly exceeded the expectations as they made it all the way to the final, where they finished runners-up to Gokulam Kerala FC.

Taking part in the Hero IWL for the third season in a row, the target, according to head coach Langam Chaoba Devi, was to better their solid third-place finish from last season. A 2-0 victory over one of the tournament favourites Odisha FC was a massive statement and made noise across the country. Similarly, the Bengaluru-based side dispatched former champions Sethu FC in the semi-finals with another convincing performance.

Although they fell short to Gokulam Kerala in what turned out to be a one-sided final, Kickstart owner Laxman Bhattarai looks at the bigger picture and has no complaints from her team.

“We, as a team, are really happy with our performance. The girls did fantastic and really enjoyed it,” said a proud Bhattarai. “It was a tournament we were really looking forward to for quite some time. Overall, I think it was a big experience for a lot of youngsters. There were a lot of new teams this time and several emerging players.”

The award for the Emerging Player of the League, in fact, went to Kickstart’s 18-year-old Astam Oraon. The Indian captain at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, who naturally plays as a full-back, excelled in a new midfield position in the Hero IWL, literally playing a pivotal role in Kickstart’s run to the final.

Further sharing his thoughts on the Hero IWL experience in Ahmedabad, Bhattarai said, “After our state championship, we were not sure when the IWL would begin. But then we (all team owners) had a meeting with the AIFF in Delhi and were clarified about the conduct of the tournament, which was eventually managed well in a short span of time.

“Honestly, the only problem was the weather conditions. We’ve already taken part in lots of other tournaments and we know every tournament is a different experience. Last year we were in Bhubaneswar, and this time in Ahmedabad. The heat was too much and unbearable at times. The afternoon games were very difficult, but at least the mornings were still better,” he said.

“Apart from that, we had no issues. The training facilities were good. Once the tournament got into gear, things were arranged well. So, for me, the overall experience of the Hero IWL was fine, barring the weather,” added Bhattarai.

The Hero IWL is set to undergo a major revamp ahead of the new 2023-24 season. According to the decisions taken by the AIFF Executive Committee last month, starting next season, it will be mandatory for the top eight participating teams in the Hero IWL, to have a minimum of 10 Indian players on a fully professional annual contract worth a minimum of Rs 3.2 lakhs. The league will also be played on a home-and-away basis. As a top-eight side this season, Kickstart have qualified for next season’s Hero IWL as well, giving Bhattarai plenty of reason to be excited.

Also ReadKolhapur, Ahmednagar Win Big On Day 2 Of WIFA Inter District Championship

Also ReadIndia U-17s face FC Augsburg U-17 in training game

SSE BFC to conduct trials for U9 to U17 age group players

SSE BFC Soccer School will be conducting fresh trials this month for players aged below 17 to be part of their football program SSE BFC Soccer Schools is a football…


India Khelo Football Season 3 Trials for Mumbai and Thane are here

India Khelo Football (IKF) is back with Season 3 of its widely acclaimed trials with an aim to cover more than 50 cities this time around. After the resounding success…


Mastering the Art of Football Trials: Key Pre-Trial Factors to Keep in Mind

Football trials are a critical juncture for aspiring players to showcase their skills and secure a spot in a team. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to tailor your approach based on your playing position as well as keeping in mind a few pre-trial factors.


Somaiya Sports Academy to conduct trials for MFA 2nd Division campaign

Somaiya Sports Academy is looking for passionate young football players for the Somaiya Sports Academy Football Team to compete in the MFA 2nd Division League 2023-2024. If selected, you will…


BFC Soccer Schools – Mumbai to conduct trials for U14 & U16 Girls

The BFC Soccer Schools Elite team girls’ trials are coming up in search of talented players from the U14 to U16 (Born 2009 and after) age groups into the club’s…


Opportunity to make the team: U.K.M. Kothrud FC conducts selection trials for girls team

Pune-based U.K.M. Kothrud FC has announced that they will be conducting selection trials for their girl’s team on 15th January 2023 The club welcomes all players to come and showcase…


The Sunday Football League Season 4 is back

The Sunday Football League is back with its fourth season, and it’s shaping up to be the best one yet. With eight talented teams competing at the Kes Kandivali turf, there…


BFC Soccer Schools Elite team trials in Feb

Bengaluru FC launched their Mumbai program last season with the Soccer Schools and Elite programs with its local partner Soccer Schools of Excellence (SSE).  Bengaluru Football Club is a professional club…


India Khelo Football Season 2 Trials in Mumbai: A Chance to Kickstart Your Football Career

After conducting trials in 34 cities & villages across India, India Khelo Football is coming to Mumbai to hunt talent on 7th January. India Khelo Football kickstarted its season 2…


Mumbai Customs to conduct trials for Elite League

Former champions Mumbai Customs will be holding open trials for the upcoming MFA Elite Corporate League (Elite Division) The 2019 MFA Elite Division champions Mumbai Customs are conducting open trials…