Mumbai: Team India captain Sunil Chhetri commended the joint efforts of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and the Premier League in providing a platform for emerging Indian footballers to take their game to a higher level in the Next Generation Cup, 2022.
The talismanic striker feels the tournament in the United Kingdom is an opportunity he never had as a youth player in India.
"This is an opportunity that I didn't have as a young footballer in India, and I'm really happy that the Premier League and ISL have joined hands to make this happen," said Chhetri, the third highest active international goal scorer in the world.
The 2022 edition of the Next Generation Cup is hosted by the Premier League and is part of its partnership with FSDL, wherein both have been working closely together for the holistic development of Indian football.
"The Next Generation Cup presents a chance for our players to go out and get the experience of playing against the youth teams of some of the best sides in the UK," said Chhetri.
"I'm really glad to see our youngsters get this chance, and it also gives our coaches to see the boys who have been knocking on the first team doors in action," he added.
Chhetri further motivated the emerging Indian talent to draw inspiration from the youngsters that have recently broken the glass ceiling and made their mark with the national team.
"To give them a message becomes easy when examples like Roshan Singh are in front of you. Think of where he was exactly a year back and look now, the journey from the club's academy to the first team and then the Indian team. He was a boy amongst them, and he has completely changed his life around. That is what you can do when you work hard," Chhetri remarked.
The U21 squads of the teams that finished in the two during the inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL), will represent India on the global stage against top Premier League academy teams.
FSDL and the Premier League in their 8-year-long partnership have collaborated to grow the sport in India with a focus on various aspects including coaching and refereeing along with youth development.