Veteran Ngangom Bala Devi, who is hailed as the Bhaichung Bhutia of Indian women’s football, has been called to attend a week-long trial at Rangers Women Football Club, top division team of Scotland since 1872. Indian women’s team’s mercurial striker Bala will fly to Glasgow on November 19 and return on November 26. “This is great news because it shows people are following women’s football,” she told Sportstar. The Scottish giant Rangers WFC is known for their best finish in the Scottish Women’s Premier League and had a fourth-place finish in 2018.

Should she succeed and sign a contract with Rangers FC she will be the first Indian woman footballer to play professionally outside India.

“I don’t know if I will be selected because I don’t know much about Scotland. I have only been to Spain twice and I think Scotland will be much different. Nonetheless, I will try my best at the trials,” an excited Bala assured who has represented India since her International debut in 2005. “I want to experience their training methods and (learn) how to develop my game. Everyone plays football but there are differences in the way it is played. Through this trial, I have an opportunity to learn the differences,” she further added.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indian women’s national team player Bala Devi has been called to attend a week-long trial at RangersWomen FC, which plays in the top division of Scotland. 
  • “This is great news because it shows people are following women’s football,” Bala said who made her international debut in 2005.
  • She said that this opportunity will open doors for other Indian players in the future. “I don’t know if Rangers will select me, but I am sure other good Indian women footballers, too, will get such opportunities.”

A firm believer of equal opportunity for both men and women, Bala thinks this opportunity will open doors for other Indian players in the future. “I don’t know if Rangers will select me, but I am sure other good Indian women footballers, too, will get such opportunities.”

“Indian football has been growing day by day — the Indian Women’s League began in 2016, the U-17 men’s World Cup took place in India in 2017 and next year, the women’s U-17 World Cup will be held too,” said the Manipuri footballer.

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

Bala showed excellent form when she emerged top player at the Indian Women’s League (IWL) this 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.

Praising Bala Devi’s chance to showcase the power of women footballers from India on an international platform, another icon Bembem Devi believes that this will inspire young aspiring women footballers in the country. “It really is a great achievement for her. Women’s Football in India is growing and the fact that Bala has got this opportunity is a huge deal, not just for her, but also for female footballers all across the country,” said Bembem.

“Little girls can take inspiration from her and take Indian women’s football further ahead in the future,” she added.

India women football team head coach Maymol Rocky lauded the move saying, “It is a great opportunity for Bala — to go and play professionally at Rangers. It is the result of the hard work that she had put in over the years. It’s really great for Indian Football that one of our players is getting the opportunity to prove herself at such a level.”

Bala Devi was the AIFF’s Woman Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

India captain and centre-back Ashalata Devi was all praise too. “Bala has been one of the best players in our team over the years, and she has continued to perform excellently on a regular basis. It makes me very happy to see her get this opportunity. I’m sure she will learn a great deal more there and, in turn, help the national team perform better in the future,” said Ashalata.

Feature Image Credit: Zee News

Read More Stories By Ria Das

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.