IWL 2023-24 Exclusive: India's top-tier women's football tournament on grounds without a single grass

Discover the shocking reality of Indian Women's Football in the IWL 2023-24 season as ground conditions at Ambedkar Stadium raise serious concerns.
Ground conidtions of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi between HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in IWL 2023-24
Ground conidtions of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi between HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in IWL 2023-24Image | Screenshot taken from YouTube

The Indian Women's League (IWL), the top-tier women's football tournament in India, faced criticism as HOPS FC played against Sethu FC at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi during the IWL 2023-24 season. Although HOPS FC impressed with their victory, the ground conditions revealed the real state of Indian Women's Football.

After facing controversies in the last season, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to give the IWL a fresh look. The league was given a home and away fixture, and the matches are now broadcasted live on YouTube as well. However, there were still concerns about food, accommodation, and the schedule. Even Bhaichung Bhutia, the former India captain, raised his voice about these issues.

Following the AIFF Executive Committee meeting in Bengaluru last year, everyone was hoping for a fresh start in the tournament. The AIFF and the participating teams made good arrangements, but the HOPS FC home ground in Delhi raised concerns about the future of Indian Women's Football in 2024, again.

Ground conidtions of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi between HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in IWL 2023-24
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The live coverage of the HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match showed the actual ground conditions, and even the commentators could not help but raise their concerns. India lags far behind in developing women's sports, and the ground conditions in the IWL reveal the extent of this problem.

Ground conidtions of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi between HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in IWL 2023-24
Ground conidtions of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi between HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in IWL 2023-24Image | Screenshot taken from YouTube
Closeup of the Ground conidtion of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi.
Closeup of the Ground conidtion of the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi.Image | Screenshot taken from YouTube

Ambedkar Stadium, the ground that hosted the HOPS FC vs Sethu FC match in the IWL 2023-24 had no green grass. The players had to play on a dusty and patchy field, increasing their injury risk. Although Fredica Torkudzor, the foreign recruit of the HOPS FC team, scored a late goal to give the home team a victory, players playing in these conditions are more vulnerable to injuries.

The dust on Fredica Torkudzor, the goalscorer of the match shows the condition of the ground as well.
The dust on Fredica Torkudzor, the goalscorer of the match shows the condition of the ground as well.Image | AIFF
According to a trusted source present at the ground, Sportz Point understands that the HOPS FC team barely got the ground so that they could prepare it as per the standards of the IWL or any other top-tier leagues in the world. Moreover, with the preparations for the Republic Day going on in Delhi, they had to play on whatever was available to them.

Since the Indian Women's Football (65) team rank higher than the men's team (102) in the FIFA World Rankings, with more support and infrastructure, the women's football team can play at the highest level faster. However, with the basics missing, the fans might have to wait longer to see growth in Indian Women's Football.

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