What's the story?
Mohammad Rakip has become the first Indian U17 player to have signed for an ISL side, after he joined last year's finallists Kerala Blasters.
In case you didn't know
Almost the entire Indian U-17 side which played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup has been in the news recently regarding their future. The Indian Arrows - AIFF's pet project of a side comprising of young Indian players playing in the I-League has already kick-started. But the likes of Komal Thatal and many others have been left out of the Arrows side with their future now being in the spotlight more than ever.
Heart of the matter
After signing on the dotted line, Rakip has joined the Blasters reserve side and has been training with them for the last couple of weeks.
Although Mohammad Rakip, the central defender from Manipur, was not in the U17 squad which played in the World Cup, he had spent months with coach Luis Norton de Matos' side, training, and playing practice matches with them.
He was not selected by Matos for the Arrows side either. The teenager had signed for the ISL giants two weeks back, and has been training with them since then. Rakip said, "Training has been going well, after the non selection I was worried, but everything is fine here. I hope to make a start soon."
There have been rumours about Kerala Blasters fielding a reserve side in the I-League second division and if that happens then Rakip will have a good chance of playing at that level before emerging on the scene in the ISL.
Many U17 stars were linked with the ISL teams since the end of the World Cup but none of the deals materialised. Rakip is set to become the first teenager from that group of players to sign for an ISL club. While the likes of Komal Thatal and Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem are yet to play in the cash-rich league, it is a good sign to see Rakip coming through the ranks.