AIFF Elite Academy
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The I-League U18 previously known as I-League U19 is the top level of youth football in India. It is contested between the under-18 sides of The I-League teams. The most successful team currently is Pune Academy who won the league in 2012 and 2013. AIFF Elite Academy are the current two-time champions.
I-League U18 Wikipedia
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.
The participants for the 2016–17 season in the Under-18 League are:
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.