LaLiga, through its women's football department and foundation, and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, through the Rural Development Trust (RDT), has launched the first residential academy for girls in Anantapur.

20 girls, aged under 15, all from the region's rural communities, have been selected for a programme, which LaLiga and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation have been developing since 2018. They will receive financial and educational sponsorship for one year to reside and train at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) facilities.

The selected players will also be enrolled in schools and will receive classes to build social skills as well as computer literacy. During their stay in the residential programme, they will also be provided with healthcare, and sports and training equipment. They will also be attending various sports tournaments and friendly matches.

In addition, the residential academy will provide a training development plan for talented girls to pursue a career in football, honing their skills under the tutelage of qualified coaches who will oversee and coordinate the project. This will be supported by the ongoing improvement of sporting facilities in the region, thus preparing them for the future opportunities growing in Indian women's football.

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"We firmly believe that when children are given equal opportunities, regardless of their gender and social class, each of them is capable of achieving things that help them grow. This same conviction, combined with the support of LaLiga and the LaLiga Foundation, allowed the Rural Development Trust to gradually reach this stage of creating the first residential women's football programme," said Anna Ferrer, co-founder and president of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.

Although interest in women's sports is growing across India at a slow but steady pace, female players often lack support and opportunities to train regularly, especially those from rural or vulnerable communities.

Anjali, 24, a coach for the recently opened residential programme, has struggled to pursue her dream of a career in sport. "When I was little, my neighbours used to tell my parents that football was not suitable for girls. Luckily, they always supported me and believed in me. I want to encourage other girls like me to pursue their sporting dreams."

Anusha, 13, from Atmakur, and also a football player in the recently launched programme added, "Many women before me, like my mother for example, never had the opportunity to play sports when they were younger. I want to make my parents proud and show the whole world that girls are just as strong and committed, and just as good footballers, as boys. "