We have gained massively by playing against PL clubs: Kerala Blasters FC defender Bijoy Varghese on Next Gen Cup

Kerala Blasters FC defender Bijoy Varghese believes that Indian football can achieve similar levels of success as the Premier League if provided with more opportunities such as the Next Gen Cup 2022.

The defender played a pivotal part of the Blasters academy side that faced Tottenham Hotspurs and Crystal Palace in the Next Gen Cup where the Kochi-based side endured hard-fought defeats.

“I was very happy when I came to know about this opportunity because I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a chance to feature against the big clubs,” said Varghese.

While the result did not turn out to be a favourable outcome, Varghese felt that there were invaluable experiences to take back home, emphasising that this opportunity paves the way forward for all the young football players to immensely raise the standards of their game.

“The team and myself have gained massively in match experience by playing against them. The technique, touch, and overall quality was amazing,” he added.

The 22-year-old, who recently penned down a contract extension earlier this year, earned a promotion to the senior team last season, making five appearances under head coach Ivan Vukomanovic. Being one of the well liked youth prospects, the defender credits his family as the reason for him being where he is today.

“The reason I got into football is because of my family. I have three older brothers who are footballers. My parents and myself believed that they would make it as they are really talented.”

“My life has completely transformed with all this hard work. The harder I work, the further I’ve gone. My family has sacrificed a lot for the happiness we have at the moment,” he stated.

In addition to Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru FC also featured in the Next Generation Cup, 2022 in the United Kingdom along with five Premier League academy teams and one South African side. The tournament was a part of the Premier League’s long-term partnership with Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) with a focus to grow the profile of the sport in India.

While Kerala Blasters FC endured defeats against Spurs and Crystal Palace, the Blue Colts had the same outcome against Leicester City and Nottingham Forest.

Varghese had words of praise for the quality of Premier League football but remained optimistic with regards to the advancement of Indian football.

“In comparison to the football back home, the quality is drastically different. I did not expect the gulf in quality to be this massive but I realised it straight away when the game began.”

“I’m not saying we are off, but given more opportunities, and by making the kind of facilities and physical training available to us, we can achieve similar levels,” he concluded.

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