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Manipur’s Bala Devi set to become the first Indian woman to play outside India professionally
Another good news for women football and especially the northeast region with Manipur’s Bala Devi Ngangom, one of the most experienced Indian women footballers has scripted history when she signed with the Scottish side Rangers Football Club.
Just a few days back, Oinam Bembem Devi, a stalwart of Indian football, from Manipur was named for Padma Shri award which made her to be the first women footballer for this civilian award.
Bala Devi becomes the first ever Indian woman footballer to play professionally outside the country. She has also become the first Asian player to sign for the club.
The 29-year-old joins the club on an 18-month-deal after a successful spell on trial at Rangers in November last year.
“To play my football in Europe with one of the biggest clubs in the world is something I could never have dreamed of. I’m looking forward to making the most of the top-class facilities and coaching and I am certain I will benefit immensely from the standard of training and competition,” Bala was quoted as saying by the club’s website.
The men’s team founded in 1872 managed by Steven Gerrard are currently in the Scottish Premier League and play in the Europa League and the Women’s Football team finished 4th in the Scottish Building Society League 2019 Season.
“I hope my move to Rangers serves as an example to all the women footballers back home in India who dream of taking up the sport professionally,” she added.
Bala also thanked Amy McDonald, Women’s and Girls’ Football Manager of Rangers FC. “Also, this move wouldn’t have been possible without Bengaluru FC who have been instrumental throughout. I can’t wait to get to Glasgow, join my teammates and give this my best shot,” she said.
Bala Devi who made India debut in 2005 was the AIFF Women’s Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015. She also finished as the top scorer in this year’s Indian Women’s League (IWL) and Senior National Women’s Championships.
On getting Bala, MacDonald said that she can be an inspiration to footballers everywhere after she became the first Indian women’s player to sign a professional contract. “We are thrilled to welcome Bala to Rangers. She is an exciting signing on so many levels. Bala is a playmaker who likes to play as a number 10 and we believe she will contribute goals and assists to the team. She will provide us with an attacking threat and a versatility that we can utilise to our benefit going into the 2020 season,” said MacDonald.