Former Indian national football team captain Subrata Pal hailed the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) for providing a suitable platform to youngsters to showcase their talent and hoped that some players can break out from the upcoming Next Generation Cup 2023 to play in Europe going forward.

Pal, who has 67 caps for the Blue Tigers, encouraged developing players to optimise the facilities laden out to them by RFDL as he mentioned that such initiatives were missing in the country when players him like were rising through the ranks two decades ago.

“I cannot express how excited I am for this developmental league initiative by RFDL. In our times, there was no league like this. Today, kids are getting so much more opportunities to play tournaments like these. More than 50 teams are participating in this initiative and over 250 games are happening,” Pal said.

He added, “So, I hope that the participating kids make good use of the opportunities, facilities and resources provided by RFDL, show their talent and show to everyone that I can play good football and that India can also play the World Cup.”

Pal opened up on football bringing about a wholesome change in the lives of all the young players taking part in this competition. His message to the scores of promising talents turning up for their respective teams in the tournament is to keep believing in their abilities and to trust the counsel of their coaches and mentors. He encouraged them to dream big and uplift their lives with the help of football.

“I believe that all the talent at RFDL have the potential to achieve their goals on the pitch and off the pitch. I have a message for them – keep working hard, believe in yourself and never give up on your goals. Through football, you can change your life and you can bring people together. So, my hearts to all the players to follow your dreams, listen to your coaches and mentors and hopefully fulfil your goals,” the 36-year-old said.

Pal has been one of the pioneers of taking Indian football forward. After successful stints with national bigwigs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Prayag United, he joined the coveted list of a handful of Indian players to play professionally abroad as well. In 2014, Pal even had a stint with Danish Superliga club FC Vestsjaelland.

He understands that ensuring sufficient game-time is integral in the development of young footballers and he sees the RFDL as a medium through which these players can get an adequate number of games under their belt at a crucial juncture in their careers. He motivated youngsters to look at these matches as an opportunity to impress ISL teams.

“In the Hero Indian Super League, there are 20 matches and it is very difficult for a coach to give game time to everyone. For me, it’s the most wonderful thing about the RFDL. I really appreciate this initiative and through this tournament I think there will be more talent will come and there will be healthy competitions between teams. After this league there are many players those are not playing in the Hero ISL, who can show their talent and impress their coach and make their place in their teams,” Pal opened up.

The goalkeeper also touched upon his role and responsibilities in this entire process. He expressed happiness at being associated with the league and talked about spreading awareness about the game to a greater extent in the eastern region of the country.

“I feel really honoured to be the ambassador of the RFDL. My main goal will be to creating awareness of football in the eastern area. I want to be a part of the main goal of the RFDL, which is youth development and to help as much as possible in the same. I really want to ensure that kids today optimise the opportunities that we didn’t get in our U-21 days and to display their talent properly in front of everybody,” Pal signed off.