Historic moment for Rangers' new signing Bala Devi, becomes first Indian woman to join major European football club
- Rangers FC announce the signing of Indian skipper Bala Devi.
Indian national team superstar Bala Devi etched her name in history by becoming the first player from her nation to sign a professional contract with a major European club by joining the Glasgow-based outfit Rangers FC.
The sharpshooter, who has been a torch-bearer of Indian women's football, penned an 18-month contract after a successful trial at Scotland.
Bala, set to don the esteemed number 10 jersey for the Scottish powerhouse, has smashed 52 goals in 58 internationals for India whilst also wearing the armband. Having risen to prominence in the national circuit way back when she was at the tender age of 15, the 29-year-old also happens to be the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region.
Overwhelmed at the prospect of a move to Europe and becoming a case study for the entire fraternity in the sub-continent, she remarked,
“To play my football in Europe with one of the biggest clubs in the world is something I could never have dreamed of. 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. 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."
Following her trial and paperwork, Bala Devi, alongside Bengaluru FC CEO Mandar Tamhane and former 32-time capped England international Mark Hateley addressed the media at Bengaluru FC's home stadium, the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Hateley, who also happens to be the Head of Business Development at Rangers, claimed that the recent partnership struck between the club and BFC was all about spreading their wings on an international scale.
Speaking on the matter, he said,
"Yes, the main idea is to expand, to expand on a global scale. In such a short space of time we've touched many places and found talent. The partnership as I say; Mandar here, is so brief yet so fruitful, and this is the way for us going forward."
While he was not present during the forward's trials, Hateley claimed that the technical team heaped praise on the forward's tactical abilities. Adding further on the women's footballing aspect, he stated,
"On the women's football side, we've been looking through and there's a lot of talent out there, deserving to get the chances. And this young lady here has all of that on her shoulders. She's now the face of Indian football for ladies."
Mandar, explaining the inside half of how the transfer materialised, said,
"When we [Rangers and BFC] spoke further about what could be done in the partnership, we suggested one of the things as women's football. And when we suggested the Indian women's team to give trials for Rangers, Bala came through and it then it gave a suggestion that she was good enough."
Concluding by throwing light on the challenges, he mentioned,
"The challenges that we had of course. Obviously, Rangers appointed a lawyer for the same. We have a representative who took things forward, while the likes of Maymol Rocky - the head coach of the national team, Sunil Chhetri and Baichung Bhutia wrote letters for her work permit. Thanks to Rangers, her visa and work permit was arranged within 24-30 hours."
Bala Devi is now set to become an emblem for Indian football's lineage for years to follow, as she embarks on a two-year journey with Rangers, beginning from February 9.Published 29 Jan 2020, 19:09 IST