Lalengmawia Ralte returned from a two-week training camp with Mumbai City FC’s sister club in Belgium, Lommel SK, earlier this month and said the knowledge he gained from it was important.

The prodigious midfielder known as Apuia in Indian football circles scored his first goal for the Islanders in the 2022 Durand Cup Final against Bengaluru FC. Although Mumbai City FC ended the final on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline, the 21-year-old midfielder put in a stellar, all action display in Asia’s oldest football tournament and in the AFC Champions League earlier this year.

“Training with Lommel SK in Belgium was a good experience for me,” he said. “Learning new things with European players and being at the top of the game was a great experience. I gained a lot of knowledge, which is the most important thing for me.”

The Aizawl native described a day in the life of the players at Lommel SK.

“Most players have their own apartment and have their own car. So, in the morning everyone arrives at training around 8:00 to 8:15 and then have breakfast at 8:30. The training starts at 10 and ends around 11:30. At 12 they have lunch and then if there is a gym session, we have gym after lunch and later, they go back to their own homes,” he described.

The training stint in Belgium at Lommel SK was an intense experience for the young midfielder.

“The main difference was the intensity but the training style was not so different. In Lommel the intensity was so high that you don’t have much time on the ball and making quick decisions is a must. I had to adapt to the speed of the game as I was playing one or two touches and making quick decisions. My training at Lommel SK has helped me refine my decision-making on the field.”

The promising midfielder signed off by saying, “I think Indian players will be able to compete with or against them, but we need to have better academies. We need to start sending kids from a young age so that they can follow the style of Europeans and then we can compete with them at any level.”