IWL 2023: Clubs and their Head Coaches

IWL 2023: Clubs and their head coaches

May 1, 2023

The sixth edition of the Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL) is underway. Sixteen clubs from different corners of the country have come together to fight it out for the crowning jewel of women’s football in India. 

Some teams look familiar from seasons gone by, while a lot of new teams have emerged from the ashes of the former champions. Today, we look at the masterminds, the motivators and the tacticians behind the sixteen best women’s football clubs in the country. 

Also read: A brief rundown of Hero Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2022-23 teams

Misaka United FC 

Anthony Francis Dias 

Anthony Francis Dias is an AFC ‘D’ Licensed football coach. He has been coaching Misaka United FC for the last five seasons, during which they have finished runners-up twice in the Karnataka Women’s Super Division. Besides football, Dias has been a full-time Scrum Master for Accenture for nearly eight years now. 

Mata Rukmani FC

Shantanu Ghosh 

Shantanu Ghosh is an AFC ‘A’ licensed coach who is also an instructor for providing ‘D’ licenses. In 2015, Ghosh became one of the selectors for the India U17 men’s national football team for the 2017 FIFA U17 Men’s World Cup. He became the first coach from Chattisgarh to be entrusted with the selection of an Indian national team for a World Cup event. Ahead of IWL 2023, Mata Rukmani FC roped in Ghosh as their head coach for the season. 

Sports Odisha 

Paromita Sit 

Paromita Sit is an AFC ‘B’ licensed coach who, in her playing days, led the Bengaluru United FC and Karnataka forward lines for several years. A player-cum-coach during the latter stages of her playing days, the 35-year-old is the current head coach of the Sports Odisha women’s team playing in the IWL. Although her team finished third in the Odisha Women’s League this year, they’ve secured direct entry into IWL 2023 on the account of having been among the top four teams last season. 

HOPS Football Club 

Sanjay Singh 

Sanjay Singh is an AFC ‘A’ certified coach and an NET-certified in physical education professional. He played for the Indian Air Force football team from 1997 to 2005 before hanging up his boots and building his career as a head coach from 2006 to 2013. Since then, Singh has helped various institutions with his expertise and guidance on youth development.

Roped in as the head coach of the HOPS team before the 2022-23 Delhi Women’s League (DWL), Singh helped the 2021-22 runners-up do one better and win their first DWL title, securing qualification for this season’s IWL in the process. 

Kahaani FC 

Lalita Saini 

Lalita Saini is an AFC ‘B’ license holder with a master’s degree in physical education and a diploma from NIS Patiala. A former striker for Madhya Pradesh, Saini has coached both the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh senior women’s teams at the national level. She currently coaches Kahaani FC, who won the 2022-23 Gujarat State Women’s League and secured qualification for the 2023 Indian Women’s League. 

Mumbai Knights FC 

Rutuja Rajan Gunwant 

In April 2023, Rutuja Rajan Gunwant completed her AFC ‘B’ Diploma course. Mumbai Knights compete in the WIFA Women’s Premier League. Led by former India international Steven Dias, they won the 2022-23 WIFA Women’s Premier League to secure qualification for IWL 2023. However, he left shortly after their league success, leaving a void filled by Gunwant ahead of the IWL season.

East Bengal FC 

Sujata Kar 

Sujata Kar is a former India international and an AFC-licensed coach. She was the captain of the first East Bengal side that won the Calcutta Women’s League in 2001. Kar saw the feat repeat itself for the second time 22 years later, this time from the dugout, as her East Bengal side won the 2023 Kanyashree Cup (renamed Calcutta Women’s League) to book their place in the 2023 IWL. 

Before East Bengal, Kar spent a lot of time unearthing young talents from the most remote corners of West Bengal. In 2021, she took up the role of head coach at ARA FC and won the 2021-22 Gujarat State Women’s League while also taking the Ahmedabad-based club to an eight-place finish at IWL 2022. 

Gokulam Kerala FC 

Anthony Samson Andrews 

Anthony Samson Andrews is an AFC ‘A’ Diploma licensed coach. He started his career as a youth development coach at PIFA Sports before taking charge of Minerva Punjab’s youth development and a few other small gigs. 

Currently, Andrews is the first-team assistant coach of the Gokulam Kerala men’s team and the head coach of their women’s team. In his debut campaign last year, he guided Gokulam Kerala Women to their first Kerala Women’s League (KWL) title, which secured their place at IWL 2022, which also they went on to win. 

Although this season Gokulam Kerala Women came second to Lords FA Kochi in the KWL, being the defending IWL champions, they were given direct qualification to the IWL 2023 group stages. 

Eastern Sporting Union 

Lourembam Ronibala Chanu 

Lourembam Ronibala Chanu is a former India international. Chanu was the goalkeeping coach of the Indian women’s national football team and completed her AFC GK Level 3 certification in 2020. 

Following that, Chanu had a brief stint with the Manipur Police women’s team as team manager before taking the reigns of one of the country’s most successful women’s clubs in Eastern Sporting Union last year. She successfully guided her team to their fifth Manipur Women’s League title, which also secured their qualification for IWL 2023. 

Kickstart FC Karnataka 

Langam Chaoba Devi 

Langam Chaoba Devi is also a former India international. An AFC ‘A’ license holder and someone with an eye to unearth raw talent, Chaoba Devi is a former assistant coach of the Indian women’s national team. During the 2019-20 season, she was in charge of Imphal-based club KRYPHSA FC, with whom she won the Manipur Women’s League and finished runners-up in the 2019-20 IWL to Gokulam Kerala.

Ahead of the 2022-23 season of the Karnataka Women’s League, Chaoba Devi joined Kickstart FC, helping them secure their fourth consecutive Karnataka Women’s League title. 

Lords FA Kochi – YMAA 

Nirvan Jagdish Shah 

Nirvan Jagdish Shah is the founder and trustee of the PIFA Foundation. He has also led PIFA Colaba FC in the MDFA Elite division and the I-League 2nd Division. Under Shah’s leadership, PIFA Colaba FC finished seventh in IWL 2022.

Ahead of the 2023 Kerala Women’s League, Lords FA Kochi roped in the UEFA-licensed coach, and it bore fruits immediately as Shah’s team defeated Gokulam Kerala to secure their first Kerala Women’s League title, securing qualification for IWL 2023 in the process. 

Celtic Queens FC 

Nitesh Sharma 

Nitesh Sharma is a young Indian coach who did his UEFA ‘C’ and UEFA ‘B’ licensing from the Scottish FA and has since worked with Curefit India, FC Barcelona Academy Bangalore and Air Force School. Prior to leading Celtic Queens FC, Sharma was the head coach of Karnataka-based Majaz FC. 

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) SC

Uttam Singh Negi 

Uttam Singh Negi currently works as a coach educator for the All India Football Federation while also serving as the head coach of the CRPF women’s team in IWL 2023. Negi holds an AFC ‘A’ coaching certificate and serves as a coaching instructor for AIFF ‘C’ and ‘D’ certification courses. He worked with the Baichung Bhutia Football Schools as head coach between 2010 and 2017. 

Odisha FC 

Crispin Chettri 

Crispin Chettri is a former India international and has an AFC ‘A’ coaching license against his name. He was part of the Mohammedan SC coaching setup as an assistant coach for a year before making the jump to Sethu FC Madurai in 2021. After winning the Tamil Nadu Women’s League, Chettri and Sethu secured qualification for IWL 2022, where his team eventually finished runners-up to Gokulam Kerala. 

Following the formation of the Odisha FC senior women’s team, the Bhuvaneshwar-based outfit roped in Crispin Chettri as their head coach. In their first season, under Chettri, Odisha FC claimed the Odisha Women’s League title. 

Churchill Brothers FC Goa 

Girijadevi Narayan Desai 

Girijadevi Narayan Desai has been part of the Indian football coaching setup for a while now. Desai, who is currently head coach of both the Churchill Brothers FC Goa women’s team and the Goa women’s senior state team, won the 2022-23 Vedanta Women’s League in December to seal Churchill Brothers’ qualification for IWL 2023. He was also an assistant coach of the Sirvodem SC side that qualified for IWL 2022 as Goan champions. 

Sethu FC

Joseph Naik 

Joseph Naik is a young and passionate coach who has previously worked as the head coach of the men’s U18 Roundglass Punjab FC side and Roundglass Punjab FC Reserves. In 2022, he joined Andrey Chernyshov’s backroom staff at Mohammedan SC as an assistant coach before signing for Sethu FC as their head coach ahead of IWL 2023. 

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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