AIFF invites Jharkhand`s tribal girl footballers to Delhi

New Delhi: Taking note of 18 tribal girls from Jharkhand winning an U-14 tournament in Spain last month, All India Football Federation on Saturday said that they could be roped into the national team if found to be good enough.

"Despite the Gasteiz Cup being a non-official tournament, AIFF Technical Team will look into the training schedule of the girls and if any of them are good enough to represent India, in their respective age-categories, they would be drafted into the national team," AIFF said in a release.

AIFF President Praful Patel invited the young girls to the federation headquarters.

"AIFF President Mr Praful Patel has invited the U-14 Girl?s Team from Jharkhand who secured third position in Spain?s Gasteiz Cup. All India Football Federation will bear the to-and-fro expenses for the Tribal Girls to travel to New Delhi from their native state," the release added.

On Friday, AIFF had asked its women`s committee to find out what had happened in the reported humiliation of the young tribal players before they left for the tournament in Spain.

Eighteen girls from a village on the outskirts of Ranchi had on July 13 finished third in Gasteiz Cup, an Under-14 tournament, in Victoria Gasteiz in Spain. The tribal girls were representing Yuwa India, an NGO founded by a 30-year-old American Franz Gastler.

They were reportedly humiliated, slapped and forced to sweep floors when they went to the Panchayat office to get birth certificates for their passport.

Patel had said that the AIFF should not be drawn into the matter as the girls were preparing to take part in an tournament not approved by it but nonetheless has asked the women`s committee to find out the facts.

"It was a malicious campaign against the AIFF and it`s totally baseless to bring the AIFF into this. The tournament the girls participated was not approved by us nor we knew about their participation," Patel had said.

"It`s good that the girls were taking part in an international tournament but how would the AIFF be in the scene if something happens to the girls on something related to the preparation for taking part in a tournament which we don`t know," he added.