Ivan Vukomanovic: Seeing Kerala Blasters FC players shine for the national team gives me great satisfaction

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Ivan Vukomanovic: Seeing Kerala Blasters FC players shine for the national team gives me great satisfaction

Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic is into his third season in the Indian Super League (ISL) and he has naturally overseen the rise of multiple young players who have thrived under his watch and gone on to represent the national team.

Vukomanovic believes that the progress that a player makes from the club level to play for his country is a validation of the efforts and performances that he has delivered for the former. The tactician understands that working regularly on skill sets for the club is a part of the daily routine of any professional. However, the national setup gives a stamp of authority to the same from a time to time basis, and that is a great driving factor for several promising stars. 

“National team call-up is a validation of your performances for the club”

The current Kerala Blasters FC squad has players such as Pritam Kotal, Ishan Pandita, Jeakson Singh, and Rahul KP who are or have been a part of the senior national Indian side in the recent past. Similarly, they have individuals like Hormipan Ruivah, Vibin Mohanan, and Mohammed Aimen who represent the India U-23 team. Vukomanovic states that he gets immense satisfaction when his players owe the success that they achieve at the international stage to the work that they put in on the training turf for the Yellow Army.

“From one side, with difficulties, because they are recognising that these moments are not easy both from a physical and mental side, because you are playing for a club that is demanding from an expectations perspective. From the other side, I am really glad to see how they have developed because they become better by understanding a lot from technical and tactical sides, which is why they get national team call-ups, and for them it’s further development. Your training process in a club is a daily process, but the national team is a confirmation of your efforts!” Vukomanovic says.

He adds, “I am happy for them, because you see them improving, smiling, and being happy. The thing I like the most with young players is when they tell us that the things we do in training makes their life easier, and I am glad that they recognize the same, which is equally important for their development. As a teacher, you are always proud of seeing your players become important parts of the society, I get the same feeling as a coach.”

“RFDL helps give game-time to a lot of my squad players”

The third season of the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) is currently on and Vukomanovic spent considerable time reflecting on the benefits that the elite youth level tournament, bringing clubs from across Indian football onboard, plays in shaping careers of young professionals. He says that it is the perfect platform for players lacking adequate game-time at the senior level to perform at.

In fact, Vukomanovic appreciated the fact that it allows clubs to capitalise optimally on their total squad strength. For instance, if a team hosts multiple players for any key position, Vukomanovic explains that they deploy a few of those players to earn their stripes in the RFDL. It has multiple benefits in his viewpoint. For starters, the level of intensity that these concerned professionals train at with the ISL teams is of significantly greater level than what’s required in youth level tournaments. That, in turn, helps produce closely fought encounters in the RFDL, thus bringing about an all-round, comprehensive growth in the Indian footballing landscape.

“We send players on a weekly basis, especially if we have multiple players for a position. They practice for us, and then they go to the B team and they play a few games there. You give them consistency to play, how they play doesn’t matter, but you need that playing time. They suffer whilst entering higher intensity training sessions, but when they play with that intensity with youngsters, they make a difference,” Vukomanovic says.

“Possibility of competing against international clubs is an awesome experience”

Four teams that qualify to the National Championship of the RFDL also get a chance to play in the Premier League Next Generation Cup. Bengaluru FC, Sudeva Delhi FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, and the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) had availed this opportunity last season. It gives them a chance of locking horns with their Premier League counterparts, such as Everton FC, West Ham United FC, and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, who participated in the previous campaign of the competition. The tournament also saw participation from eventual winners of the second season, i.e. Stellenbosch FC from South Africa. Vukomanovic explains that the sheer chance to lock horns with these sides is a good enough incentive for Indian players to constantly keep improving and showcase their mettle as the highest of stages.

“It’s an awesome experience and you compete for something and you have the prize of going there to see that level of football. Going there, you face the reality, and you have two feelings, firstly of being proud of reaching there and there’s also a sense of reality that comes in. You realize as a player that there’s a long way to go if you want to reach there. It’s both motivating and frustrating because it gives you a perspective of how football is developed in certain parts of the world,” Vukomanovic says.

The matches will be live streamed on: https://www.youtube.com/@RelianceFoundationYouthSports

Catch the region-wise standings here: https://www.rfyouthsports.com/football/rfdl/standings

RFDL National Group Stage Schedule Link: https://www.instagram.com/p/C5qY8nuJdqU/?igsh=dmJlaWdjN3RnMzRu

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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