Sahal: The opportunity to play in the Hero ISL changed my life

The Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) has helped unearth several talents from across the country ever since its inception in 2014. Many players have flourished by shining on the Hero ISL stage before going on to represent the Indian national football team. One such player is Kerala Blasters FC’s Sahal Abdul Samad, who won the Hero ISL Emerging Player of the League award for the 2018-19 season.

“The opportunity to play in the ISL changed my life. Football gives me joy and I have always been very excited to play the sport. ISL gave me a platform to showcase my skills to a larger audience with no professional experience of football,” Sahal said in an interview with thebridge.in.

Another way by which the Hero ISL has aided the development of Indian football is the signing of quality foreigners to rub shoulders with the domestic talents and Sahal explained how this has helped Indian football.

“Sharing the dressing room with legends has definitely changed the way every Indian player looks at football. Their experience and tips motivate us to perform even better. A chance to experience professional football, right from the beginning of our careers is a huge advantage for players like me, especially to find a place in the Indian national team,” he said. “Playing alongside foreign counterparts helps build our skill levels and also urges us to push ourselves to the best of our capabilities to match their competitiveness.”

The 23-year-old also praised Kerala Blasters for their efforts in helping in the development of young players. “I am very happy to be a part of Kerala Blasters, a club that focuses more on identifying young talents in India and creating opportunities for them,” Sahal shared.

While looking ahead to the new season, Sahal couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and spoke highly of Kerala’s new head coach Kibu Vicuna. “I am eagerly looking forward to the upcoming ISL season under our new coach Kibu Vicuna. I am sure all of us will definitely benefit from his vast experience in football,” he said.

Sahal already has 37 appearances in the Hero ISL so far and he dreams of bringing the coveted trophy home to Kerala one day. “My ultimate aim like any other player is to bring the ISL title home and I hope to utilize my potential to the fullest to achieve this dream for the team, along with my teammates, under the guidance of the new coach. My mentality on and off the pitch is to always give my 100 per cent. I think being true to yourself is all that matters. And I am sure I will continue to do the same in future too,” he said.

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