Veteran footballer Ngangom Bala Devi, who became the first Indian women’s footballer to play professionally for an International club has extended her stay with the team in Glasgow since India has tightened the travel restrictions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak. She signed a contract with Scottish Women’s Premier League Club Rangers late last year.

The 30-year-old striker, who is often hailed as the Bhaichung Bhutia of Indian women’s football, is free from all professional commitment right now after the Premier League got postponed till April 30. However, she cannot return to India as the country has barred incoming international flights from March 22 to 31 as a caution for the deadly coronavirus outbreak. “We haven’t been training for the last few days. We are confined to our homes and I am training indoors. I cannot fly back home as per government regulations, but I am okay here. The club is taking care of me,” Bala told IANS from Glasgow on Friday.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bala Devi cannot return home from Scotland despite women’s Premier League postponement due to the travel restrictions India has enforced.
  • Indian women’s national team player Bala Devi  was the first to sign a contract with Scottish women’s Premier League club Rangers.
  • Bala Devi has represented India since her International debut in 2005 and has recently grabbed Asian Footballer of the Year nominee.

“There are no matches now as the league has been postponed and will start on April 30. But even if she wanted to go back home, the flights from UK to India have been stopped two days back,” Bala Devi’s agent Anuj Kichlu told PTI.

‘Can’t go back home’

Taking careful measures of her situation and thinking about the safety, her agent expressed, “So she can’t go back home, she will remain training there, there is no other way out. We will see the situation. If the league re-starts on April 30, she can stay there and play. But if it does not start and is postponed again, we have to see what to do or if any flight is available at that time and decide accordingly,” he added.

READ: Women Footballers Don’t Have A Long History In India: Aditi Chauhan

Devi showed excellent form when she emerged top player at the Indian Women’s League (IWL) last year with 26 goals for Manipur Police SC. She has also won the Senior Women’s National Football Championship with Manipur, scoring 21 goals in five matches to be the top scorer.

Bala was the top scorer of IWL 2019 with an astounding tally of 26 goals from just seven games.

Devi signed for a two-year collaboration with Rangers last September. “I am hoping the situation improves quickly. Food is becoming expensive here. The good thing is that the club is on hand to help all the time. I am continuing my workout at home and staying indoors mostly,” she told IANS.

She was named the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women’s Player of the Year twice — in 2015 and 2016

Devi was a captain of India’s gold-medal winning team at the South Asian Games last year. She scored 16 goals in five matches. She is also the top scorer for the Indian national women’s team right now. She stands tall at the chart, netting an impressive 52 times in 58 games since 2010, also making her the top international goal-scorer in the South Asian region.

Feature Image Credit: Zee News

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