Orchestrating a pathway for talented young players across India, the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) have nurtured several astonishing footballers since its foundation in 2015. With a brand-new season of Indian Super League (ISL) upon us, let's take a look on some of the RFYC graduates who can make a significant mark on the biggest stage in Indian club football.
Aritra Das (Kerala Blasters FC)
The 19-year-old footballer from West Bengal became a part of the Blasters family since 2020. Aritra Das has represented the club during the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) and the Durand Cup. The left back was clean in possession and contributed materially towards the attacking side during the matches in the Durand Cup. He bagged himself a goal against Army Green FT, which turned out to be an absolute screamer from outside the box.
The player was handed a three-year contract by the club which is set to expire on May, 2023. With the form that he is currently in and with the impact he is instilling into the side, the Blasters management might well be keen to extend his contract.
Muhammed Nemil (FC Goa)
After a brief loan-stint with Spanish club UDA Gramanet (U-19), Muhammed Nemil made a move back to his parent club FC Goa in June, 2021. Ever since, the former RFYC player from Kerala has been a prominent face for the Gaurs. Nemil surprised the Goan fans with his eye-catching performance for the club in the Durand Cup (2020-21) where he grabbed 4 goals in 6 matches.
The player has not yet hit the ground running in the ISL as he put out a sub-standard performance last season. The player would be eager to find his touch in the Super League this time around.
Ayush Chhikara (Mumbai City FC)
The forward from Haryana underwent a promising spell at RFYC which indeed catalyzed the decision of Mumbai City FC to sign the player in October, 2020. Within a squad packed by talented resources, the player in fact got a chance to play for the Islanders in the Durand Cup.
Head Coach Des Buckingham would be hopefully experimenting on the team's young resources. After a reasonable loan spell with Sudeva FC, the 20-year-old is raring to set foot in the ISL and formulate vital contributions to the team.
Muhammed Basith (Kerala Blasters FC)
On the back of a positive display in RFDL, Muhammed Basith was called upon to represent the Blasters for the Durand Cup. The Keralite made himself a place in the starting-11 for all the 5 matches. He was solid and brave at the back putting in vital challenges. The defence lead by Basith conceded just 3 goals in the group stage.
With the lack of depth in Indian defenders within the Blasters team, Basith is well and truly on the run to make it to the final squad this season in the ISL.
Balaji Ganesan (Chennaiyin FC)
The young sensation from Tamil Nadu became part of the Marina Machans in October, 2020. The right back was initially designated to Chennaiyin FC ll and later on, was duly promoted to the main team in the same year. Ganesan represented CFC in the RFDL and played a total of 500 minutes in the entirety of the tournament.
The south-Indian club is heading into a new season of ISL without a dedicated right back. This has indeed opened up possibilities for the youngster with regards to a slot in the final squad.
With consistent emergence of quality talents from RFYC over the years, the growth of grassroots football in India appears to be heading in the right direction.