Following his two-week training camp with Belgian club Lommel SK, Mumbai City FC (MCFC) midfielder Lalengmawia Ralte, fondly known as Apuia, underlined the primary difference in the training regimen between the two countries.
The 21-year-old returned from his stint with the MCFC's sister club earlier this month and stated that he gained a lot of experience during his time in Belgium.
He said in a media statement:
“Training with Lommel SK in Belgium was a good experience for me. Learning new things with European players and being at the top of the game was a great experience. I gained a lot of knowledge, which is the most important thing for me.
“Training in Belgium was quite difficult since the intensity was high compared to other countries. The main difference was the intensity but the training style was not so different."
The youngster has emerged as one of the most exciting midfield talents in Indian football. Apuia recently scored his first goal for the Islanders in a losing cause in the 2022 Durand Cup final against Bengaluru FC.
A fast-paced and grueling training stint with fellow club from City Football Group club Lommel SK will expectedly help Apuia grow further. He said in this regard:
“In Lommel the intensity was so high that you don't have much time on the ball and making quick decisions is a must. I had to adapt to the speed of the game as I was playing one or two touches and making quick decisions. My training at Lommel SK has helped me refine my decision-making on the field.”
"I didn't have much difficulty fitting in" - Mumbai City FC youngster Apuia
Apuia, a graduate of the AIFF Elite Academy, explained that fitting in the Lommel SK squad wasn't essentially a difficult task. He stated:
"It was not too difficult fitting in the squad, but you need some time to fit in on and off the field. I didn't have much difficulty fitting in though."
Hence, he remains confident that more Indian players can go and compete with individuals from such foreign clubs. But Apuia stressed:
“I think Indian players will be able to compete with or against them, but we need to have better academies. We need to start sending kids from a young age so that they can follow the style of Europeans and then we can compete with them at any level.”
With the Indian Super League (ISL) inching closer and Mumbai City FC raring to bury the ghosts of their last season, the next few months could see Apuia take his game to a whole different level. The brief stint in Belgium could just aid the youngster on that journey.