Playing against Premier League academy teams best experience Indian youngsters can get, says IM Vijayan

Former India striker IM Vijayan believes the opportunity to play against Premier League academy teams will be a learning curve for the young Indian players who will take part in the Next Generation Cup in the UK.

The Next Generation Cup in the United Kingdom, is part of Football Sports Development Limited’s long-standing partnership with the Premier League to help in the growth of the Indian football ecosystem.

“It is the best chance the players can ever get. Having the opportunity to play against academy teams of the Premier League, the world’s top league at such a young age will boost the confidence of young players and give them plenty of experience,” Vijayan said.

The legendary India player also felt that the Reliance Foundation Development League, which served as the qualification platform for the Next Generation Cup has helped build a competitive development platform for emerging players across the country.

“What Reliance Foundation does is beyond words of praise. They are moulding a strong young generation who are talented and love football. Giving them these kinds of opportunities at a young age will give them great confidence and efficiency. It is a commendable thing to mould a young generation capable of taking India to the top of world football,” said Vijayan.

Emphasising on the importance of the growth of emerging youngsters, the Indian football legend, Vijayan lauded the rise of youngsters in Indian football. The 53-year-old believes the Next Generation Cup will be an aspirational tournament for young footballers and gives them an opportunity to aspire to follow in the footsteps of Sahal Abdul Samad, and Suresh Singh Wangjam, who have gone on to become regulars in the national team.

“I hope we are seeing a change. We are embarking on a new era of Indian football with the youngsters coming in and taking charge. India did well in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers with so many young players making the core of the team. Now with competitions such as this, I am sure we will find many more talented players who will serve the country for long,” Vijayan concluded.

The Premier League and FSDL have continued to work together to share knowledge and expertise to drive the holistic development of football in India, which comprises various aspects of the game including coaching and refereeing.

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