Ngangom Bala Devi has created history by becoming the first-ever Indian woman footballer to be signed by a foreign club. The road to this paradigm-shifting achievement wasn’t an easy one for Bala Devi but for a player of her caliber to have achieved this, it’s certainly no surprise as well.
Bala Devi has also served as the captain of the Indian team. In her 58 matches for the national team, she has scored 52 times and during the first two seasons of the Indian Women’s League, 38 times. On bagging the contract, the 29-year-old footballer told the reporters, “I’m excited to get this 18-month contract and to play in the No. 10 jersey. For the Indian team too, I played in the No. 10 jersey. That makes it doubly sweet.”
Bengaluru FC, who has a partnership with Rangers FC, facilitate the trials and work permit for the footballer. Bala Devi seemed quite confident about her selection and based on her performance during the trial, her faith was not misplaced. In one of the games, she scored twice during her trials.
During an interview with Scroll.in, while commenting on her performance in Glasgow, Bala Devi said “I had given my best, so I wasn’t nervous. The coach there told me that he was pleased with the technical and tactical side of my training and I only needed to work a bit more on my fitness. Overall it was a good week of training for me.”
Having played with international players, this gave Bala Devi an insight into the world of European football and how the Indian players compare to them. “The players are better than us physically and technically, but we are not far behind. The aspect where we need to work most is the tactical side of things. Indian players must develop that understanding to play in Europe. However, I felt that it is not beyond our capabilities and we can do it,” she said while commenting on what it would take other Indian players to make it in International clubs like her.
She’s played for the Indian team for the past 14 years and now playing for the Rangers FC seems like a natural transition for a player of her stature. Bala Devi affirmed that it will be tough to adapt to the new surroundings of the game but she is looking forward to overcoming these obstacles.
Having granted their wish of seeing an Indian player play in a European League, Indian’s will be rooting for Bala Devi, but it also brings a lot of pressure along with it. The Manipuri forward hopes not only to overcome the challenges and perform well but also to set an example. She wants to inspire the footballers in India and instill the belief that they too can play at this level.