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“RFDL gives players an opportunity to express the way they play,” says East Bengal head coach Carles Cuadrat

The celebrated Spaniard opined that RFDL helps young footballers break into first teams of ISL clubs better equipped

Carles Cuadrat Reliance Foundation Development League helps youngsters break into first teams of ISL clubs

Carles Cuadrat Reliance Foundation Development League helps youngsters break into first teams of ISL clubs, PC: ISL

East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat lauded the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) for making the bridge between the reserve and first teams of big clubs very smooth in the country.

The third season of the RFDL commenced in February 2024, and the three-stage tournament saw 20 teams progress from the qualifying regional stage to the national group stage. Four teams will further qualify for the national championships.

Cuadrat is no stranger to the Indian football scene. He led Bengaluru FC to an Indian Super League (ISL) title in 2018 and is now associated with East Bengal FC. He also has a thorough understanding of how grassroots development in the country is.

Speaking on the sidelines of the RFDL, Cuadrat said the elite youth development tournament focuses on the formation of the players, given that it is a teething problem with several clubs in the formative tournaments. He added that players who play in the RFDL are better equipped with skills when they make the transition from the reserve to the first team.

“It (RFDL) gives them an opportunity to play games. It’s one of the things that are difficult in India in the formation of players. I remember watching a lot of games with the Bengaluru B teams, with the sides winning by 6-0, 8-0, and these results don’t put you in a competitive situation. It’s too easy for teams to be winners in that kind of games and then the jump to the ISL is too high. So, the RFDL gives players that opportunity to be competitive with players of your age, who can give you trouble on the field. I have been watching the games, they have been close like 2-0, 1-0, and 2. It means that it’s a challenging tournament,” Cuadrat explained. .

According to the Spaniard, RFDL has allowed the players to not waste precious time of their developmental years on the bench, and instead engage in closely fought encounters with their peers from clubs across the country. “Players have to give their everything and for sure they will learn a lot from that. Some players are in the first-team, but it’s better for them to get minutes playing in the RFDL. For example, Sayan Ghosh, was playing for East Bengal in the RFDL, and he even plays in the first-team. The tournament gives them a huge opportunity to express the way they play the game and get an opportunity to get in the first-team,” he said.

East Bengal FC has had a good run in the RFDL so far. They have also qualified for the national group stage, topping the table in the east region.

Hari Kishore M
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