After the conclusion of the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League, the new Coach & Player Selection Guidelines of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) instructed clubs to sign four developmental players. The new rule will reap rewards for youngsters as they get to be a part of the professional first team set-up and their game will further blossom.
Balaji Ganesan, a thrilling prospect at left-back was one of the developmental players that Chennaiyin FC signed in 2020. The youngster can play across all positions on the left flank – as a left-back, a left wingback or a left winger. His crossing ability caught the eye of many at a young age and he was asked to base his game as a fullback.
The 19-year old gets candid in an exclusive interview with IFTWC about his growth, the ISL reserves league, and youngsters being signed on lucrative contracts.
Balaji was scouted by Chennaiyin as a kid and is now a member of the senior team.
“I’m extremely happy. I attended Chennaiyin FC’s 15-day camp of the grassroots program before leaving for Mumbai where I stayed for 5 years at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports.”
The club signed the experienced left-back Narayan Das from SC East Bengal, one of the highest appearance-holder in the ISL for the upcoming season.
“Narayan Das gives me a lot of great advice. He sits down with me and talks a lot. He’s an extremely experienced player and has been around the circuit for a long time, and I’m sure he will help us with his vision and professionalism this season.”
When asked about his take on the planned ISL reserves league, Balaji said, “It’s an excellent move. Due to the pandemic, all this had taken a backseat. There was nothing of this sort for two years. This gives a fantastic chance for youngsters like us to break into the first team.”
In the last transfer window in Indian Football, talented youngsters like Lalengmawia Ralte and Liston Colaco were signed on lucrative multiple-year deals by Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan.
“It is very good for Indian Football. Youngsters will want to give their 100% and nothing less, because of the trust and the commitment the clubs are showing for them. They will want to work harder and get more game time.”
The league will be played inside the bio bubble and without fans for a second consecutive season.
“It is not the ideal situation for the players to be in. It is the fans who give us the motivation and the strength to give our best on the pitch. It was the same last year. However, we need to keep in mind the situation in our country at the moment, and following the bio bubble is just a responsibility we need to shoulder.”
Chennaiyin FC appointed Bozidar Bandovic as the new Head Coach after Csaba Laszlo was released after a lacklustre season last year.
“I have spoken to the gaffer, along with the other coaches about how I can improve my discipline as a defender on the pitch. My goal from this season will be to make use of whatever time I get on the pitch, improve my skills and fight for the badge.”
Balaji Ganesan’s message to the Marina Machans’ fans
“As we know, the fans cannot be in the stands this year. However, we need your support from your homes as it is you who keep us fresh and confident before every game. I am sure, as always the Marina Machans will back us through thick and thin and help us lift the ISL.”
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