Donning the Rangers number 10 jersey, the same number she wears for India, Bala Devi hopes to continue playing in Europe…
Former captain of the Indian national women’s team Ngangom Bala Devi has become the talk of the town once again, with her outrageous strike in a 5-0 win against Spartans last Sunday, in the ongoing Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) 1 season.
The last time she scored for Rangers in December 2019, to become the first Indian woman to score in a professional league in Europe when she netted in the 9-0 win over Motherwell. Devi was nominated by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for International Player of the Week and won it with 50 per cent votes back then.
The 31-year-old has been nominated by AFC once again in the latest poll for International Player of the Week.
What Bala Devi had to say?
“Being a striker, it’s very important to take a decision quickly. When I first received the ball, my predominant thought was to pass it forward but I thought of taking the shot (instead).
“I have been nominated in the International Player of the Week category by AFC before as well and I got a lot of support from Indian football and Rangers fans. This week as well I am nominated. So I feel very proud that there is so much support for women’s football,” she said.
However, for one who has scored over a 100 goals in domestic football back home in India, Bala has adapted to a new role at Rangers. “Over here, I have been playing as a striker or in a number 10 position also, which is right for me as well. The advantage in a number 10 position is that you can score as well as pass. So the number 10 position fits me well.
“In my opinion, in order to support the team, it is very important to create goals. So I like creating goals,” she explained.
Future at Rangers FC?
Bala Devi signed a 18-month deal with Rangers on 29 January 2020 as the team battles for the SWPL 1 title, just four points off leaders Glasgow City with four games to go.
“I feel good that I am getting a playing opportunity here, along with the experience. It’s very good for a player and I’m sure it (the situation for women’s football) will improve in India as well. I cannot say much about my future. The league gets over on June 6 and only after that can we decide what is to be done.
“Every player hopes to continue playing (in Europe) but I cannot confirm anything about what will happen after June 6,” the India international maintained.
The women’s football ‘promise’
Last season’s Indian Women’s League (IWL) champions Gokulam Kerala is set to represent India in the eight-team pilot tournament of the AFC, touted to be termed the AFC Women’s Champions League in 2013, to be played between October 30 and November 14 this year.
Besides this, India are also the designated hosts for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and FIFA U-17 Womens’s World Cup in 2022.
“The Indian Women’s League is improving in India right from 2017. So I think the women participating in AFC competitions will also help us improve in terms of our participation in the AFC Asian Cup. Whatever experience I can share, I will. But the Indian team has improved a lot, in fitness and in confidence. I think we can go a long way.
“From 2005 till now, I have represented India and nothing like this (U-17 Women’s World Cup) has happened before. From 2017, women’s football has improved a lot. The federation is doing a lot for the junior and senior teams to get enough exposure. So the federation deserves credit,” Devi stated.