Kerala Blasters’ winger Rahul KP, believes his experience with the Indian Arrows prepared him to face the challenges that the Indian Super League has to offer.
The youngster, who has scored three goals from 16 appearances so far in the ISL, has been a part of the India U-17 team for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and followed up that experience with two seasons at the Indian Arrows in the I-League.
“The World Cup (2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup) groomed us. While it was difficult to play in the I–League, the preparation was amazing, and it gave me an opportunity to play in ISL,” the Tuskers’ forward said, explaining the step by step process he went through in a chat with AIFF TV, on Friday, February 5.
“Joining the Indian Arrows was a great experience after the World Cup. We played in the I-league, and every player in our team was around 17-18 years old, and we had no foreigners,” he shared about his time in the AIFF Developmental team.
The 20-year-old winger played in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup the first ever FIFA event that India hosted. He inherited a great deal of exposure in the five years in build up to the tournament.
“Getting selected for the U-17 team for the World Cup was a great exposure for me. It was a process of five years, where I had to leave my home and join the AIFF. We trained in Goa, and got a lot of exposure. The training prepared us from the basics,” he said.
“The AIFF took care of us! They gave the right exposure and training. I thank the Federation for that. We got to play with a lot of other teams which was a great exposure, while also getting to travel. We went to different countries as a team to play. We saw a different level that we had to play for the World Cup.”
“It’s always different to go to a new country. You learn a lot when you play with foreign teams. It does not matter whether you are good or bad, you keep improving. The preparation for the World Cup was great. It is difficult to maintain the level all the time. I was sent home several times but I gave my 100 per cent,” Rahul shared.
The Indian team, while preparing for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, travelled to countries like Germany, Qatar, Hungary and the UAE, and played against a number of quality opponents like Brazil, Russia, Norway, and many more.
“We went to Germany first and we stayed for three months for the first time. It was hard for us to get used to the cold weather and training fields. The food and everything was different.”
“There was always an opportunity to grow. Football is from Europe, so we got the opportunity to go and play there and feel what they felt. We watched Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain) games, went to different academies, played with different teams and players. It was special, and we kept learning every day,” the Thrissur-born lad shared.