Bala Devi: Gearing up for a fresh challenge on the pitch

Ngangom Bala Devi, the flag bearer of women's football in the country, and the former captain of the Indian national team, shares a light moment with kids of United Poona Sports Academy at Aksharnandan School near SB road, on May 25, 2019 in Pune, India. (Getty Images)

Ngangom Bala Devi made history last month when she signed an 18-month deal with the Scottish club, Rangers FC, becoming the first Indian woman pro-footballer.

While goalkeeper Aditi Chouhan had a stint with West Ham United in 2015, Devi is the first to sign a professional contract. The 29-year-old from the Manipur Police Sports Club joins Rangers FC after trials in Glasgow in November.

“It was always my dream to play at that level and it is amazing,” Devi, who is one of the 14 players to join Rangers, told reporters after the announcement. I want to make India proud,” the 29-year-old forward told the BBC, speaking through her manager.

She says that although she has been playing for India since she was 15, she still treats every match as if it’s her first. She said she hopes that her time at Rangers will “motivate the next generation of [Indian] players.”

Devi has scored 52 goals in 58 appearances for her country, and has scored more than 100 domestic goals. She has periodically served as national team captain in a distinguished international career that began at age 15.

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