"RFYS league is going to play a significant part in Kashmir" - Former Indian national team defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo

Mehrajuddin Wadoo
Former India defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo

Over the past six years, the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) has served as a significant launching pad for numerous young players in India. Several youngsters, who started their football journey in the RFYS league, are currently top talents in the country.

The foundation has consistently organized football tournaments across various states and age groups, from the Under 15, 17, 19, and 21 categories for boys, as well as Under 15 and 19 for girls. Now, after six years, the competition is set to unfold in Kashmir for the first time, offering a platform for talented individuals in the state.

In collaboration with the Department of Higher Education (UT of Jammu & Kashmir) and the University of Kashmir, the RFYS foundation has partnered for the Annual Inter College Boys tournament. This event, featuring 29 teams, will witness a total of 28 matches taking place from November 13 to November 30 in Srinagar.

When discussing footballers hailing from Jammu & Kashmir, it’s impossible not to mention former Indian national team defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo. Wadoo has been an advocate for Jammu & Kashmir football for a long time now.

The former Chennaiyin FC full-back engaged in a conversation with Sportskeeda, where he emphasized the importance of RFYS conducting tournaments all over India. He believes that this will provide healthy competition for the young players to showcase their abilities.

"I think this competition is crucial. RFYS is doing a great job," Wadoo said. "This league is also going to be one of the best because usually in our country, we have very few competitions for the youth."
"As far as Kashmir is concerned, there are many games the youth are taking part in, but this initiative will give even more opportunities for the young players to showcase their potential and skills. You’ll only know your strengths and weaknesses when you play more games, so it is equally important as it shows where they are right now and where they can improve," he added.

The development of a competitive football environment in India has been a focus in recent years, and the RFYS league plays a pivotal role in this effort.

Wadoo emphasized that the league will expand the talent pool for top clubs in India and the national team, particularly benefiting Kashmir, a region known for producing numerous talented players.

About the significance of the competition being held in the state for the first time, Wadoo stated:

First and foremost, I’d say the RFYS is doing excellent work in terms of spreading the league all over India. When you have a league all over the country, you’ll have a big pool of players taking part. Jammu & Kashmir is where I come from, Danish Farooq, Ishfaq Ahmed, and a lot more players have come from as well. So we believe there is a lot of potential."
"RFYS league is going to play a significant part in Kashmir because the young players in the state need the experience and competition. I have seen their training and they are certainly working very hard, but ultimately what matters is a competitive environment. The RFYS will bring exposure and you will see a lot of players who have the potential to be part of the national team’s youth set-up and the I-League and ISL clubs," he continued.

"Jammu & Kashmir is heading in the right direction" - Mehrajuddin Wadoo

In the present situation, Kashmir-based clubs such as Real Kashmir FC and Downtown Heroes FC have garnered notable recognition. The latter, in particular, made an impression during the 2023 Durand Cup, showing determination and resilience against stronger opponents despite finishing at the bottom of the group.

Wadoo shared insights on the significant improvement in the local leagues in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. He expressed optimism, stating that the region is moving in the right direction in terms of the development of grassroots talents.

"The state right now are doing a good job. For the past month, the league has been organized very well. Moreover, there are a lot of good teams taking part in the league and it has given a platform for the players to express themselves. It’s growing and we can only hope that this league will be improved because there is always room to develop," he stated.
"We also have clubs like Real Kashmir, Downtown Heroes FC, and several others who are eager to take part in the I-League and maybe ISL. Over the past few years, the local leagues have gotten better and now there are youth leagues including the RFYS which are happening," Wadoo continued.
"So, Jammu & Kashmir is heading in the right direction and I won’t be surprised to see more players from Jammu & Kashmir playing in India’s top leagues," he added.

The RFYS league has been a significant step in nurturing grassroots talents in India, and its extension to states like Kashmir is poised to offer an improved platform for young players to showcase their potential to Indian clubs and the national team set-up.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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