All you need to know about Bala Devi, The First Indian Woman Footballer to Bag Contract with Foreign Club
Not much attention is given to Indian football in general, let alone WOMEN’s football. But, you should. Why? Because Indian women footballers are spreading their wings, making the country proud, and getting global recognition. Have no clue who we are talking about? Let us introduce you to one such Indian women footballer Ngangom Bala Devi, who plays in a major women’s football league in Scotland and makes the country proud.
Early life and domestic career:
Bala Devi was born on 2nd February 1990 in Manipur. While growing up, she was always fascinated by the sport and used to play with the local boys. However, she was always criticized for it.
“I used to play with the local boys initially. Many people started talking about my playing and started criticizing me.”
However, she continued playing football as she found strength and support in her father, a state-level football player.
“My father was a footballer, and he used to motivate me always. Even today, he is my go-to person for any kind of football query, however silly it may be.”
Bala Devi was part of the Manipur team at the under-19 Women’s championship held in Assam in 2002. She was declared the best player of the tournament. She eventually represented the Manipur Senior Women’s Football Team in the Indian women’s football championship and various other Indian women’s football clubs, such as the Manipur Police Sports Club and KRYPHSA F.C.
Bala Devi has scored a total of twenty-six goals in her domestic career in her thirty-seven appearances, which helped her get noticed by the Scottish Premier League club, the Rangers. F.C.
Foreign Club Contract
Bala Devi created history when she became the first Indian Women Footballer to sign and play for an international football club, Rangers F.C, in the Scottish Premier League. She signed the contract for 18 months in January 2020. However, she had to wait almost a year to score her first goal for the club as the league was canceled due to the pandemic. She scored her first goal in the Rangers vs. Motherwell match held on December 6, 2020. Coming as a substitute player in the 65th minute, she netted the final goal in the 9-0 thrashing of Motherwell by the Rangers. She became the first Indian women footballer to score in the European professional football league. It has been a memorable event in Indian women’s football history and helped put the country on an international stage.
Talking about her experience at the club, Bala Devi exclaims, “It’s a different country and a whole new experience. There are many players from Scotland, Canada, the USA, France. It’s a huge challenge for me, but I am gaining a lot of experience from them as well.”
Representations, Awards, and Accolades
Bala Devi has had an illustrious career so far with her. She has represented India in the 2016 South Asian Games, where she scored three goals in five matches. The SAFF Women’s Championship is where she has excelled dramatically. She was part of the Indian team in the first SAFF Championship held in 2010. It was her best tournament as she scored a whopping eight goals in five matches, which included her five goals in a single match against Bhutan, in which India went on to win with an unbelievable score line of 18-0. India, eventually, was the winner of that tournament.
Similarly, at the 2014 SAFF Championship, she exhibited excellent form, scoring sixteen goals in just five matches, and India claiming the championship for the third consecutive time. Bala Devi was awarded the Women’s Player Of The Year award by the All India Football Federation on account of her performance. She received the prestigious award again in 2015. Till date, Bala Devi has scored thirty-six goals while representing India in forty-six matches.
Bala Devi has been an inspirational and influential figure for Indian girls wanting to make a name for themselves in football. Even the Indian women’s football team captain Ashalata Devi has praised Bala Devi, saying that her stint with the Rangers F.C. will be a huge boost for young girls across the country. Ashalata, in her chat with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), said, “Bala di playing for Rangers is a very big opportunity as it shows us the way to play abroad and for the next generation too. I hope the young generation gets inspired by her and (goalkeeper) Aditi Chauhan.”
Bala Devi truly has been a blessing for Indian women’s football. Here’s wishing this great personality all the success for her future endeavors.
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