Reliance Foundation Development League Returns For Its 3rd Edition With More Teams And Wider Reach
After a soaring success in the last couple of years, the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) has returned for its highly-anticipated third edition with 55+ teams across eight zones, namely: Mumbai, Goa, Kerala, South, North, East, Meghalaya – Assam, and Mizoram, competing for the top prize in one of the most competitive youth football tournaments in India. The third edition of the league will begin on 14th February with the first match kicking off in Mizoram.
Comprising clubs from the Indian Super League (ISL), I-League, I-League 2nd Division, and nominated sides by the State Football Associations, the upcoming season of the RFDL promises to be a delight for the sporting ecosystem in the country, with players from across the nation receiving a fantastic opportunity to showcase their talent, get ample playing time under their belt, and subsequently progress to realise their ambitions with senior teams.
“The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) has served as a launchpad for 135+ players who have who have progressed from the RFDL to play in the I-League, ISL. The magnitude at which the league operates allows it to reach every nook and corner of the country and unearth gems and untapped footballing potentials. The tournament gives them a stage with the entire Indian football fraternity keeping close tabs on the RFDL to spot and secure the next big thing from the sport in the country. RFDL epitomises the efforts of Reliance Foundation and its various partners to work in tandem towards building a robust youth development structure for football in India.” a Reliance Foundation spokesperson said.
“The RFDL helps us keep a close watch on prospects, especially from the reserve teams of all the clubs, and it eases their transition to the first-team. It gives us an opportunity to scout talent from a widespread pool of players from clubs across the country. Young talents get a chance to be nurtured by coaches through the competition, and it not only helps us reinforce our squads at the senior level but also enables the creation of a sustainable footballing ecosystem in India.” said Carles Cuadrat, Head Coach, East Bengal FC.
“RFDL gives a fantastic opportunity to players to seize more playing time and display their skills in competitive matches. Young talents have shined in the competition lately and the enhancements of opportunities play a part in the overall development and competitiveness of Indian football. By showcasing their potential in a tournament like this, young aspiring footballers across the country are inspired and encouraged to follow their dreams with similar passion and dedication.” said India international and FC Goa defender Sandesh Jhingan.
The RFDL 2024 will be played across three phases – Regional Qualifiers, National Group Stage and the National Championship. Around 300+ matches will be played amongst 55+ teams across eight zones in the regional qualifiers, before 20 sides from pan India progress to the National Group Stage.
These 20 clubs will then be divided into four groups of five teams each as they will lock horns across 40 games, with the winners from each group booking their spot for National Championship. The National Championship will see two semi-finals, a third-place playoff game, along with the summit clash taking place.
Players born on or after January 1, 2003 will be eligible to participate in the league. Each team has been granted permission to include up to five players born on or after January 1, 2001, in their matchday squads. No more than three such players will be permitted to be part of the playing XI at any time. Participants cannot be younger than 14 years and 364 days at the time of their registration for the tournament.
While more than 45 players from the Development League have stepped onto playing ISL, standout names from the current season of ISL are Mohammed Aimen, Mohammed Azhar, Vibin Mohanan, Nitesh Darjee, Nikhil Barla & Nikhil Prabhu.
ISL outfit Bengaluru FC have won the RFDL in both its seasons so far. The previous campaign saw numerous success stories, with the most prominent of them being that of Sudeva Delhi FC, who got a chance to play in the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup courtesy of their runners-up finish in the RFDL. With the eyes of academy coaches and scouts from both within the country and abroad on the RFDL now, the players in this season should look at it as the ideal platform that they can thrive upon to give wings to their fledging careers moving forward.
Reliance Foundation has worked proactively towards engaging children and youth of this country in active sports, with its various initiatives touching the lives of over 22 million people from across 13000+ schools and colleges since starting off in 2013. RFDL is one of the foremost enterprising pillars of its success as it furthers the commitment of Reliance Foundation towards reinforcing the lives of young Indian athletes by bringing to them the access to the topmost competitions, playing facilities, infrastructure, sports science expertise, and coaching, so that they can achieve unforeseen laurels for Indian sport