GOA: India captain Sunil Chhetri lauded the Reliance Foundation Development League for creating a much-needed platform for the next generation of footballers in the country to graduate to the next level.
"There are so many players, especially youngsters, who do not get enough chances. Some of them when they do get it, they make the most out of it. Reliance Foundation Development League is the right step forward in the right direction. So many players of different teams who did not get enough chances in the ISL, played and are playing here. They can also look forward to playing 90 minutes in a competitive tournament," Chhetri, the Indian football icon and inspiration for budding footballers said.
The first-ever RFDL saw seven Indian Super League clubs and Reliance Foundation Young Champs compete for the top honours, with the top two teams getting a chance to participate in the NextGen Cup to be held in the UK. On Thursday, Bengaluru FC became the champions as Kerala Blasters FC finished runners-up, meaning both teams will participate in the NextGen Cup.
The talismanic Chhetri thanked Reliance Foundation for investing in the first-ever Development League, saying they have done what was really needed.
"Congratulations, Reliance Foundation for doing what was really needed," added the Bengaluru FC skipper.
Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic heaped praise on the organisation of the RFDL, saying such competition will only help Indian football in the 'global picture'.
"I have always said that investing in youth development is the right way. Investing in youth will bring progress to Indian football," said Vukomanovic in a message.
"The Reliance Foundation Development League is a great thing, especially for the young boys to show their qualities, to compete and from my side I would like to congratulate all these people organising and developing that league. That is the way it will help Indian youth and actually later on Indian football in the global picture," added the Serbian who helped Kerala reach the final of the 2021-22 season.
Vukomanovic, who recently extended his stay at the club till 2025, added that the reserve side has proved their mettle in the RFDL and he is happy seeing their progress.
"It is indeed delightful to see our boys in KBFC doing so well. It was great for all of our youngsters to show everyone they have the potential and talent to participate at a higher level," Vukomanovic added.