The Premier League-Indian Super League Youth Games 2019 comprising of youth teams of Arsenal, Leicester City, Mumbai City FC and the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) began on March 5 at the Reliance Corporate Park, Ghansoli (Navi Mumbai) football arena.
Former Premier League striker Les Ferdinand, who has plied his trade at top
In the first match, the Arsenal colts failed to hold on to a two-goal lead as RFYC came from behind to win 3-2. In the second game, Mumbai City defended well to hold Leicester City to a goalless draw.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Reliance Corporate Park Football Arena, Les Ferdinand gave his opinion on the match between Leicester and Mumbai. He said, “I thought the game was alright. I thought the pitch was a little bit slow to start off with. Mumbai had a great chance. I thought it was evenly matched in the first half. In the second half, Leicester put the pressure on but Mumbai defended really well.
“I think it (such games) is extremely important for both teams. We always try to give the youth different experiences. Not just about football itself, it's also about understanding different cultures. I think it is always important to exchange programmes. You can see what people are doing.”
On being asked if it is better to develop young talents in their home countries or send them abroad for better training facilities, Les mentioned, “You are going to be doing that development here anyway. Exchange programmes go both ways, it is not just English players coming here, it's about you going out of India and gaining experience in the Premier League, Germany, wherever it may be, to see how people do things. In football, there is a lot of travelling.”
The former Spurs striker had a very important tip for budding strikers. He suggested that in order to be a top forward, a player must be a little selfish at times.
He said, “You end up being very selfish and single-minded. You have to be, sometimes. I lived to score goals. I think most strikers would say the same thing. If the team won 3-0 and you didn't score, most of the top strikers I have worked with would be upset. Even if the team won, you want to score because that is your job. You have to have that mindset, have to enjoy scoring goals.”