Sumit Rathi has been ATK’s revelation this season. He has become a mainstay of the ATK backline and has been a key component of Spaniard Antonio Lopez Habas’ plans.

The 18-year-old was born in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. He is predominantly a left-sided centre-back. Rathi started his career at the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Elite Academy, later joining the Indian Arrows in 2017.

The young defender was signed by ATK reserves for the 2018-19 season, before finally being called up to the senior team this season. Due to his composure and ability to read the game well, Rathi has impressed in his debut campaign and has climbed up the ladder at a club that has a good squad depth.

Sumit Rathi was in the spotlight when his brilliant defensive performance earned him the ‘Hero of the Match’ award in a 0-2 away win against Mumbai City FC, at the beginning of this year.

Recently, Rathi was present at the Aditya Academy ground to witness the Kolkata edition of the Hero ISL Children’s League. He shared his experiences, interacted with the aspiring footballers and clicked photos with them.

www.islchildrensleague.com caught up with Sumit Rathi regarding his experience of meeting the Hero ISL Children’s League footballers. Rathi said, “It was amazing to meet these children. I saw excitement and confidence on their faces as they are getting such a good opportunity to play in the ISL Children’s League. It was also nice to see the parents and coaches accompanying the kids. I am glad that family members are also supporting kids to play football at such a young age. Overall it was a treat to watch the U-6 play.”

Speaking on the Hero ISL Children’s League initiative and its impact on the next generation of footballers, Rathi remarked, “The most important challenge for any young player is to get a chance to play at a quality level. It’s not easy, but all young players must believe in themselves and keep working hard. I think these children are very lucky that they are getting a chance to play so many matches regularly. Credit goes to the Hero ISL Children’s League management for giving young kids this experience and platform. I am looking forward to these kids becoming professional footballers one day.”

For aspiring footballers, an interaction with a young player like Sumit Rathi who has taken big strides in the past couple of years is priceless. As for him, the youngster has his eyes set on bigger targets in the near future. It won’t be much of a surprise to see Rathi in the senior national team setup, given the pace at which the young centre-back is galloping forward.