Elite League (India)
The Elite League is a system of youth football leagues that are managed, organised and controlled by the All India Football Federation. It consists of 3 age groups comptetions U18 (Elite Youth League), U15 (Juniors League) & U13 (Sub-juniors League). The Elite League previously known as Youth League U18, I-League U18, I-League U19 and I-League U20. is the top level of youth football in India. It is contested between the under-18 sides of The I-League teams, Indian Super League teams, as well as other youth teams. The most successful team currently is AIFF Elite Academy, who won three titles. Minerva Punjab are the current champions. On 7th December, 2018 All India Football Federation decided to change its name from Youth League U18 to Hero Elite League.
|Number of teams||35|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Current champions||Minerva Punjab FC|
|Most championships||AIFF Elite Academy|
The league was founded as the I-League U19 in 2011 which was to give youth teams of the I-League a national league to play in as at that time the I-League youth teams only played in state youth leagues. Clubs fielded Under-19 teams. 16 teams were split into four groups of four with only one group containing only three teams. At the end of the season the top team from the group stage would move onto the final group stage with the other group winners and play each other once. The inaugural winners were JCT.
The competition name was changed in 2012 to the I-League U20 because many u20 players in the I-League were not getting any time in the senior teams. Teams will play those within their own group twice and again the top teams will move on to the final group at the end.
The U20 title however only lasted for two seasons before the All India Football Federation decided to switch the tournament back to an under-19 tournament from 2014 onwards. From 2014, the format was changed where the tournament was divided into five region based zones, namely, Kolkata, Mumbai, Shillong, Goa and Rest of India.
The competition once again changed in 2015–16 now played as U18 tournament. From 2017–18 season, the league was renamed as Youth League U18 and subsequently renamed to Elite League from 2018–19.
The participants for the 2017–18 season in the Under-18 League are:
|Maharashtra Zone||DSK Shivajians||Kenkre||Football School of India||Steadfast – Mumbai Rush||PIFA||Pune City|
|Kolkata Zone||East Bengal||ATK||SAI Kolkata||United||Mohun Bagan||Mohammedan|
|Shillong–Guwahati||NorthEast United||Rangdajied United||Shillong Lajong||SAI Guwahati|
|Goa Zone||Salgaocar||Dempo||Sporting Goa||Goa||SESA||Churchill Brothers|
|Chennai–Karnataka||Bengaluru||Chennaiyin||Ozone||Chennai City||Raman Vijayan SS|
|Delhi Zone||Bhaichung Bhutia FS||Sudeva||Indian Youth SA||Delhi United||Delhi Dynamos||Hindustan|
|Rest of India Zone||Group A||Aizawl||NEROCA||TFA||Fateh Hyderabad||Sports Hostel Odisha||Ananthapur SA|
|Group B||United Punjab||Real Kashmir||Minerva Punjab||Youngsters Club||J&K State FA|
|Group C||SAG FA||Baroda FA||Kahaani|
|Group D||SAI Trivandrum||MSP Football Academy||Kerala Blasters||Gokulam Kerala||Kerala|
All teams play each other in their respective groups twice – home and away. At the end of the group stages, the top two teams go through to the final phase in Kolkata, Maharashtra, Goa and Shillong-Guwahti zones. However, only the top team goes through from the Rest of India zones: Zone A, Zone B and Zone C and Delhi zone making it a total of 12 teams progressing to the Final Round.
Those twelve teams will be divided into three groups and the group champions, along with the ‘Best Second Placed Team’ will qualify for the semi-final which will be followed by the final to decide the U-18 I-League 2016–17 champions.
|2012||Pune F.C. Academy|
|2013||Pune F.C. Academy|
|2014||Tata Football Academy|
|2014–15||AIFF Elite Academy|
|2015–16||AIFF Elite Academy|
|2016–17||AIFF Elite Academy|
|Youth League U18|
- "AIFF Moots U-15 & U-18 I-League For Clubs & Academies". I-League.org. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- :::: The Aiff :::: Archived 2012-04-11 at the Wayback Machine
- "AIFF's Emergency Committee meets in New Delhi". The All India Football Federation. Retrieved 28 May 2013.