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More tournaments like RFDL should happen, says former India goalie Subrata Paul

Published at :May 19, 2024 at 4:29 PM
Modified at :May 19, 2024 at 4:30 PM
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(Courtesy : Red Bull)

Atawaris Warsi


Subrata Paul also shed light on how international exposure will help the budding talents in India.

The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) 2024 recently concluded with Punjab FC defeating East Bengal in a nail-biting final, securing their fantastic undefeated season with a victory at the Reliance Corporate Park in Mumbai. The finals were graced by several esteemed guests, including renowned goalkeeper Subrata Paul

Khel Now got a chance to interview him on the sidelines after the match, where the former Indian goalkeeper discussed everything about the RFDL. Excerpts of the same are given below:

Supporting RFDL

The RFDL has successfully conducted three seasons, and the league has seen immense growth during this period. Subrata Paul is quite vocal about the development of football in India via RFDL, and when asked about the same, he replied, “This is a platform for young players who are not getting opportunities to play regularly in ISL. This is an excellent platform for U-21 and U-23 players, where they can showcase their talent. They can gain experience from here which can help them grow professionally. I support it (RFDL), because such a good opportunity, good ground, great teams, more than fifty teams participate in this league.”

He added, “This league runs for three months and players get game time, which is very important. This will help the children in future. Some teams are going to Europe, and will compete with the Premier League junior teams; that is something next level. What we used to dream, these kids are living that dream. And this should happen. More tournaments like these should happen and ultimately we will get the advantage of this in the national team. We want players to grow from here and get good opportunities, groom them and then play for the national team.”

International Exposure

A few teams from this RFDL season will be going international to play the Next Gen Cup. When asked about the same, the former Indian goalie, who himself was part of Denmark’s FC Vestsjælland. replied,  “International exposure is extremely important, because if we can bring like six teams from here and six teams from Europe, then our children will be more developed. If we want to perform at the top level in Asian competitions, then we have to play with good teams. When kids of U-15, U-17, U-21 will get this exposure, they will ultimately perform better for the national team.

He added, “This international exposure will definitely help, and the experience they will gain from there, will eventually help Indian football. Our ultimate goal is to perform for India. East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters, these all are secondary. First priority is the national team. If the national team performs well, everybody will know our league automatically. When these kids go to Europe and perform well for the national team, that is the result.”

Fan support for these leagues

Subrata Paul also shed light on the importance of fans in the development of these leagues. He highlighted, “Fans are always part of the game. This league maybe is not popular now, it’s just the third year. Maybe after five years, it will have a full crowd. If you watch East Bengal’s, Mohun Bagan’s, or Delhi FC’s matches, you will see that there are always fans present. Because everybody enjoys football, and everybody supports their team.

“I had my own team in this league as well, AIPL FC, from the eastern zone of Delhi. Punjab was in my group, and there were supporters for Punjab there. Home base crowds always support. Talking about this league, I hope that in the future everyone comes or plays in this league more, because this is a platform from which the players can do better in future,” he concluded.

Speaking about RFDL, it is established by Reliance Foundation, and is a youth development league aimed at nurturing and promoting young Indian football talent. By providing a platform for competitive matches and professional training, the league plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between youth football and senior-level professional leagues in India.

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