Gurpreet: 'Current India U-16 players better than what we used to be at their age'

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who has gained global experience over the years, had previously been a part of the U-16 national team and he feels that the current crop is a whole lot better than what they used to be at their age.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is all praise for India's U-16 footballers. (File Photo)   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu knows India’s football structure quite well. The goalkeeper, who has gained global experience over the years, had previously been a part of the U-16 national team and he feels that the current crop is a whole lot better than what they used to be at their age.

For this, the goalie thanked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for organising exposure trips under the guidance of coach Bibiano Fernandes. The side is gearing up for the AFC U-16 Championship, which kicks-off in Kuala Lumpur from Thursday.

“I have watched some of the highlights of their games. In terms of quality, these boys are much better than what we used to be at that age. It makes me feel very proud. Things are changing, and I am pretty positive,” Gurpreet said.

Talking about their times, Gurpreet said: “Every single day, we would learn something new about the game. There was hunger to grow and evolve as better players. That was the first time we started to receive good coaching,” he said.

Reminiscing about his days at the AIFF Academy, Gurpreet said: “Those were the days where I was still wondering I will ever be a professional. Those were the days when I connected with the game and learnt about Indian football at large.”

The goalkeeper is also happy to see so many exposure trips being organised. “It’s a very positive development. If we would have that much exposure what they have been receiving at the moment, who knows things would have been much different. They are very lucky and need to make the most of it. But overall, I’m very happy that they are getting such opportunities and that youth Football is being taken so seriously. After all, they are our future.”

There are quite a lot of boys in the U-16 team who idolise Gurpreet, and he is humbled. “I am just a normal player who is trying to contribute to Indian football as much as I can. We are all part of one big family.”