Veteran Ngangom Bala Devi, who hailed as the Bhaichung Bhutia of Indian women’s football, was one of the star players out of the seven Manipuri footballers who are boycotting the national team over difference with coach and assistant coach. Bala wanted to make it to the list of players called for the preparatory camp of AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers. Amidst the boycott, Bala has received a call-up for the national camp in New Delhi starting from July 1 to July 17. She showed excellent form at the Indian Women’s League (IWL), thus receiving a special invitation. Whether or not the issues concerning the national camp is resolved, the AIFF, however, is yet to respond to the matter of giving free cards for qualification.

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

It’s been five months since seven Manipuri players including Bala have decided to boycott the national football team after they complained to All India Football Federation (AIFF) about issues regarding head coach Maymol Rocky and assistant coach Chaoba Devi.

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

Now 30 players have been called to the camp, however, goalkeeper Elangbam Panthoi Chanu and defenders Ranjibala Devi and Umapati Devi, all of whom have been a part of the boycott, have been excluded from the list. Despite their brilliant performance at the IWL final with Manipur Police SC Pthey could not make it to the list.

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

Responding on the matter Bala told News18 that she is still contemplating if she should accept the call-up and report for the camp.

“She is feeling bad that none of the protesting players apart from her have received the call-up, not even the ones who played the IWL final. However, she also feels that if she goes to the camp, may be she can open a channel to finally start conversation about the whole protest. She is at crossroads,” the source said.

Other prominent names that have been called up for the camp are Anushka Samuel, who scored four goals for Hans Women FC in the IWL, Daya Devi has also been rewarded for her energetic performance in the IWL.

Feature Image Credit: Zee News

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