Shillong, June15:All 12 teams of the inaugural Meghalaya Baby League will be in action on Saturday as the unique tournament gets under way in earnest in Polo Ground.
The MBL had its official launch last month and will now be played every weekend over the next few months. Teams have been busy practising ahead of tomorrow, which will see 30 games held at three venues – Third Ground, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Futsal Ground – all at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex.
The first matches will be between Kickstart FCC Rhinos and Langsning Greenergy Lions, who kick off proceedings at 9:00am at Third Ground in the Western Conference.
All five age groups of Kickstart Rhinos and Langsning Greenergy Lions will play against each other and the other teams will follow the same format as well.
The other fixtures will see Mawlatbah SC Hawks face off against ENE Falcons from 12:00pm, followed by Unified Gorkha Gators against Little Star Clouded Leopards from 1:10pm. All of these teams are in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, Sunnydale School Doves and Touchline NE Cubs start proceedings from 9:30am at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, followed by Nongthymmai GC Scorpions against Nongtrai Cheetahs from 2:15pm and Wahlakhiat Bulls versus JNS Jaguars from 3:00pm.
All are welcome to come and cheer on the children.
The Baby League is the joint initiative of one of India’s oldest philanthropic organisations – Tata Trusts – the MFA and the AIFF and aims to give children from the age of 4 to 13 regular exposure to competitive football over a period of six months in order to develop their game, instil confidence and create a base of players that can be drawn on and taken to the next level in their teenage years.
The format will be a league-cum-knockout arrangement, with five-a-side and seven-a-side matches, depending on the age group.
The 4-5 years and 5-6 years age groups will be five-a-side with a minimum of 10 players in each team. The 8-9 years, 10-11 years and 12-13 years age groups will be seven-a-side and will have to have a minimum of 12 players per team.