Bala Devi to debut for Rangers FC in the Scottish Women’s Premier League
Manipur footballer Ngangom Bala Devi is all set to make her debut for Rangers FC in the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup on Sunday.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Bala Devi said the road for more Indian players would open up in Europe if her performance meets expectations.
“Clubs have definitely started to look at Indian players and are following them. I hope the opportunity I got can lead to more such opportunities for other talented players back home. It is a big step for me. I will try to give my best hoping it can pave the way for more players from our country and the region to play in Europe,” Bala Devi said.
She stressed that Indian women players needed to aspire to play full-time with training every day.
Bala signed an 18-month deal with the Scottish side in January this year, scripting history in Indian football. Her side will play its first match on Sunday against Hearts after the first two matches were postponed owing to bad weather.
“The preparations have been really good. For me this is the first time I have go through such intensive pre-season training. The first two matches of SWPL Cup got postponed due to weather conditions. So, the team is really looking forward to playing this weekend. I hope this match is not affected by weather too,” she added.
The expectations are high, especially in India, on Bala Devi to perform. She will wear jersey number 10 and is more focused on the game than thinking about other issues.
“It is a big move for me and everyone is supporting and watching out for me. So, there definitely is the pressure to perform according to the expectations. However, I will concentrate on my game and give my best, like I always do in all the games I have played till now. So, it will not be any different from how I did back at home while playing for India or my club,” said the 29-year-old attacking midfielder.
She is also highly impressed with the support staff and team environment at Rangers. “They (support staff) have been extremely supportive and helpful. It’s a great learning experience working with our coach. There is always something new to learn. Their training is intensive and very methodical. This is helping me improve my game a lot as well,” Bala Devi, who made her India debut in 2005, said.
With this, she has joined stellar performers like Mohd Salim, Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, among others, who have played for European clubs in the past.