Indian Arrows ready to take on the best: Pinto
Kolkata, March 13 : The development at the grassroots level must be strong for any footballing nation to rise through the ranks and that is exactly what India aims at as it takes baby steps in the soccer world.
The Youth Development Programmes (YDP) project of AIFF, which majorly comprises of boys who played in the Under-17 World Cup and some talented 16-year-olds, saw 11 players being called for the U-23 national camp for the AFC Qualifiers.
Speaking to IANS, Pinto said that the call-ups were truly deserved and the kids must take a step at a time and make the opportunities count as the Super Cup beckons.
"The 21 points in the I-League is a testament to the potential of youth in football. Surpassing last season's numbers was a good feeling indeed. Ending the season with a win against the mighty Mohun Bagan at the majestic Salt Lake Stadium was an indicator that the boys are ready to compete at the highest level against the best teams in the country," he smiled.
Commenting on the significance of the upcoming Super Cup, he said: "The Super Cup is another opportunity and platform to showcase the abundance of talent, capability and ever-improving competency of this youthful Arrows side.
"The boys truly believe that they are in it to compete, and not just make up the numbers."
Talking about the chosen 11, Pinto is filled with a sense of pride.
"We felt a sense of pride and achievement. It is the next logical step in their development towards the goal of representing the country at the senior level," he expressed.
Commenting on Mahesh Gawli's contribution, Pinto said: "He has brought in experience of highest level. He has always had a calm influence under pressure, and adds robust work ethic to the Arrows setup."
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at email@example.com)