Photo Credit: Jamshedpur FC website

The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) is already living up to its hype, with young footballers handed the perfect platform to showcase their talent and further their case for selection in the Hero ISL. Jamshedpur FC’s Carlos Santamarina, who looks after the youth development of the club, is happy regarding the induction of the RFDL, but feels the players need more game time to set a foot on the next level.

"It's great. India did not have enough good tournaments for these young boys. When I joined here, I felt the boys in our academy were not ready for playing ISL after finishing (their time) in the academy. The level of the league is increasing, so I feel Indian football really needs leagues like these, congratulations to all for making it work," said Carlos Santamarina, as reported by The Bridge.

The tournament kicked-off last week, with eight teams in the fray, including seven Hero ISL teams and a team from Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC). Jamshedpur FC scripted a comfortable 3-0 over Mumbai City FC to move to the top of the table. It’s still early days, but Santamarina feels that the RDFL should continue and more teams should be included in the same.

"I think it's the first step, you have to continue with this and try to increase the number of teams. This will for sure help increase the level of Indian football,” stated the coach.

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Aware of Sunil Chhetri’s contribution to Indian football, Santamarina feels that time has arrived to groom the next batch and shortlist potential successors for India’s highest ever goal scorer. However, it boils down to the amount of game time and the number of competitions are available for the upcoming crop.

"It will only help them. In Spain, a child starts from five years old and gets as many as 30-38 matches every season, playing in regular leagues. So with all this exposure, these boys are getting good competitive games, it's fantastic. At this age, these boys need to play as many games as possible. It's good that young players did well in the ISL this time, they need more game time and opportunities to play," added Santamarina.