Rahul KP, after an injury-affected season at Kerala Blasters, is looking forward to fighting for his place and grow as a footballer in the 2020-21 season.
With a contract extension that ties him to the club till 2025, the Thrissur Gedi will now have ample opportunities to show his strengths and work on his weaknesses.
The 20-year-old, who started all of India‘s group matches at the 2017 U17 World Cup, is fully convinced that the Kochi-based Indian Super League (ISL) side has something in store for him in the next few years.
“Kerala Blasters has a great vision for the future and a well-defined process to achieve the objectives of the club. I spoke at length with Karolis (Skinkys), our Sporting Director and am convinced with the plan that the club has for me,” he told Goal.
The player, who is currently in Goa with the rest of Indian players in the Blasters squad, is enamoured by Blasters due to their trust in young players. “This is just the start of my career and I’m confident that Kerala Blasters is the right place to develop even further, simply because of the trust the club places in the youth. This is evident from the chances that the club has given to a lot of young talent in the past, who have grown with Kerala Blasters.
“The fight for a chance in the squad is definitely going to be challenging. I will work hard and put in my best to improve and perform. Although the decision took a while, I’m really happy to have stayed at the club. I’m also very thankful to the management for believing in my abilities and supporting me in all ways throughout my time here.”
Rahul is set to enter a bio-secure bubble with his teammates in Goa and will be hoping to soon start training under the new head coach Kibu Vicuna. He’s in for a very different kind of challenge this season in the ISL and not just due to the changes in personnel at the club.
“This is going to be a tough season for every player, especially with no fans at the stadium. We’ll definitely miss the passion, energy and enthusiasm of our supporters during the matches. Every player will now have to motivate themselves and push harder on the field.
“Despite this year being unlike any before, we do understand that health and safety are of utmost priority and we are happy to comply with the rules and regulations set by the league for the team to ensure football is still alive. Challenges are also exciting. It makes you tough.”
As Goal reported earlier, Blasters, like many other clubs, quickly realised that modern problems require modern solution and has been using digital communication to get the players ready for the new season.
Rahul said, “Although we have all been at home, the team has made the best use of technology to connect with each other during the off-season. We used to have team meetings twice or thrice every week with the head coach and the entire coaching staff. This has helped us bond already with everyone in the squad. We are all ready for the season, to fight as a family, together for each other, to play a good game of football and make our fans proud.”
Not long ago, Rahul stated his dream of playing professional football abroad and if anyone’s doubting his commitment towards that objective following his three-year extension, then the player has a response.
“It takes a lot of determination, dedication and sacrifice to match the footballing levels of clubs abroad. If I do make it one day, I want to contribute and make a mark for myself and not just sit on the bench and be happy to have been part of a foreign club.
“This needs a lot of mental and physical preparation to be better than what I am now and be ready for the challenges ahead. Having said that, this is the right age for me to go that extra mile and give it my all to try and realize my dream. I’m confident that the well-defined processes that have been set at Kerala Blasters will help me improve my skill sets, not just on the field but off the field too.”
The fleet-footed winger knows that he is still not at the expected level at which he can claim first-team minutes at European clubs. He also knows about the challenges that he is set to come across once he sets out to pursue his dream. And most importantly, he is ready to face them.
“Competing at a foreign club comes with a lot of challenges and sacrifices. Apart from the highly competitive footballing levels of players who have started training under a coach at the age of 3 or 4, it takes a lot of mental strength to be alone, away from home, family and your comfort zone to pursue a dream.
“But life is all about taking risks. I have grown up with this dream of playing for a foreign club and will continue chasing this. With Kerala Blasters, I’m confident that I’m on the right path to prepare myself, both as a player and a person for the future.”