Both Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC reserves ended their Next Generation Cup, 2022 campaigns by finishing fourth in their respective groups. Rob Quinn, coach of the Crystal Palace academy team, which defeated Kerala Blasters 4-1 in London on Saturday, was optimistic that the Next Generation Cup will provide the platform for one day for an Indian footballer to play in the Premier League.
“Why not is the question. There should not be any reason why not,” said Quinn. “The Next Generation Cup is going to provide Indian youngsters the exposure to the levels of what they can hope to achieve one day. There is definitely some optimism I think,” added Quinn, an alumnus of the Crystal Palace academy himself during his playing days.
The Next Generation Cup, 2022, hosted by the Premier League as part of their long-term partnership with Football Sports Development (FSDL) featured the reserve sides of Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC along with five Premier League academy teams and one team from South Africa.
Kerala Blasters had previously been defeated by Tottenham Hotspur in the Next Gen London Group B semi-final.
Midfielder Ayush Adhikari scored for the Indian club after converting a successful penalty kick. Quinn reserved high praise for the Tomasz Tchorz-coached side. “Kerala Blasters made for a really good physical challenge for us. I think they were resolute and disciplined. They made it hard for us to break through. We had to show a lot of patience because they were hard to break down,” the 45-year-old said.
Quinn also commended the joint efforts of FSDL and Premier League in helping develop the sport’s profile in India. “Getting the young boys and girls exposed to good coaching early is crucial. I know they are trying to build up the level of infrastructure for grassroots football in India, which is brilliant. I am sure there will be lots of willing participants to get better,” he said.
“Youth development is essential to bring in the right structure and support. You need to bring in the correct funding to give the young boys and girls the best chance to progress. You need constant players coming in. In terms of the youth, they are the ones that bring in the energy,” Quinn concluded by stressing on the importance of youth development for a sustainable footballing nation.
Meanwhile, in Next Gen Midlands Group A, Bengaluru lost to Nottingham Forest 1-6 in the 3rd/4th place playoff after impressing in their semi-final against Leicester City, where they lost 3-6.
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