Vikram Partap Singh was among the shining lights of the I-League 2019/20 season -- featuring in 14 matches for the AIFF's developmental side Indian Arrows. The young gun, playing just his second season at the senior level, was the highest scorer for the Arrows and had the second-most key passes for his team, and credited his development to an "increase in maturity."
In a chat with www.the-aiff.com, the 18-year-old attacker said: "I feel I improved a lot this season. With so much quality game-time in the I-League, I have become more mature in reading situations -- such as picking the right moments to take on defenders, identifying their individual weaknesses and creating one-versus-one situations, etc."
Vikram was the captain of the Indian team that reached the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championship in 2018 and found the net against Vietnam in the opening clash. Subsequently, he was drafted in the Indian Arrows side for 2018-19 I-League season as he went on to make his debut at senior level and made 13 appearances in the campaign -- scoring in a 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong.
Comparing the two seasons, Vikram felt that the first campaign made him realise the steep difference between junior and senior football, and that the experience has made him a tougher and better player.
"The more you play, the more you learn. I am grateful for the opportunity to play in the I-League so early in my career. In my first season, I was not that mature and was finding it hard to play against experienced players," he stated.
"I had come straight from the U-16 team and there's a massive difference between the two. At first, I used to think I could dribble past everyone and score -- like at the junior level. But then, I had to tell myself 'It doesn't work like that at the top level'," he remarked.
Another key learning for the youngster from Chandigarh has been the importance of playing as a unit, and gelling and developing as a group -- something that Arrows Head Coach Venkatesh Shanmugam stressed upon a lot, as Vikram informed.
"Venkatesh sir is a firm believer in teamwork and a lot of the work we did was on growing as a team. In training, we would have drills such as 'situation games,' where you have to play with each other's support. Off the pitch too, he made sure that we stayed as a group at all times and stood by each other. We developed a really strong bond in the team," he expressed.
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