The increase is indicative of the growing interest amongst the football clubs and academies in the country. The teams are drawn all across India, giving the league a balanced representation, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said on Tuesday.
“Last season 39 teams competed in the Youth League but the number has jumped to 50 this season, which is more than overwhelming. It reflects the increasing level of the interest among the kids. That’s the aspect which we are looking for,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said in a statement.
The league was conceptualized as the U-15 Youth League. But it has been renamed the U-16 Youth League keeping in mind the forthcoming U-17 World Cup India in 2017.
AIFF Technical Director Scott O’Donell said the “magic mark” of 50 showed the “positive intent”.
“Reaching the magic figure of 50 in the second year of the U-16 Youth League shows the positive intent among the clubs and private academies. They deserve due credit for their untiring effort towards building up the teams,” he said.
“Playing competitive football is a big part of a young player’s development. The U-16 Youth League will give the players (and coaches) the opportunity to test themselves against teams from other States.
“The first edition of the U-15 Youth League was a huge success and it is great to see even more teams expressing their interest.”
In the inaugural edition, Minerva Academy FC defeated Royal Wahingdoh FC in the final in Goa.