GOKULAM KERALA FC HAVE added another historic feat to their feather, becoming the first club from India to play in the AFC Women's Club Championship.
Following a decision to postpone the Indian Women's League 2021 edition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the All India Football Federation have communicated to AFC that GKFC, who won the IWL in February last year, have been officially nominated to take part in the second pilot edition of the continental women's championship as the reigning Indian champion club. The AIFF were in contact with the government of Odisha to see if they could host the IWL in that state, but with the fear of a third wave of COVID-19 still prevalent, they have seemingly chosen to err on the side of caution for now, and hold it later at a more opportune time.
Once AFC officially approve this recommendation from AIFF, Gokulam Kerala FC will not only become the first club from India to send a women's team to Asia, they will also become the first Indian club to have both their men's and women's teams playing at the continental level on the same season (2021-22). In Asia, this has only been done once before, when Melbourne Victory played in AFC Champions League as well as the first edition of AFC Women's Club Championship during the 2019-20 season.
Gokulam Kerala FC's men's team will also participate in the AFC Cup 2021, which is the second tier club competition of Asia. But their women's team have now earned the distinction of becoming the first club side from the football-crazy state of Kerala to play in the highest level of Asian club football, surpassing the achievement of the men's team.
GKFC are the first and only club to hold the I-League and IWL titles simultaneously. They rose to prominence when they won the Durand Cup in 2019, becoming the first club from Kerala to win the prestigious title in 22 years. They are also the reigning Kerala Premier League champions.
With their recent flurry of winning national level silverware and the historic feat of fielding two teams in AFC tournaments, it can be argued that the Malabarians have become the most successful club in the country in the last couple of years.
The second edition of the AFC Women's Club Championship is scheduled to begin on October 30th 2021, with the Vietnamese city of Lam Dong rumoured to be the host venue. It will feature eight clubs; namely the champion clubs from India, Uzbekistan, Iran, Jordan, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Chinese Taipei.