Ngangom Bala Devi better known as Bala, India’s prolific striker, AIFF’s Player of the year 2014. In the recently concluded 2014 SAFF Women’s Championship Bala Devi scored five goals in an 11-0 thrashing of Afghanistan. She also scored two goals in a 5-1 win over Bangladesh.
She scored 11 goals in her first 3 games at the tournament. In the final against Nepal, she scored four times in a 6-0 victory to win the championship and finish the tournament with an astounding 16 goals in just five matches, almost three goals every game.
How tough/easy was it to convince the people around you that you would be taking up a career in Indian Football?
Bala: It wasn’t very tough to convince people as many girls use to play football in my state. But I heard some of them saying that it’s better to study and stay at home for a girl instead of playing football. My family was very supportive.
What are the problems faced by women/girl athletes in India?
Bala: I think eerlier is was difficult as there were very less facilities for women’s athletes. It’s been much better now but it should improve more.
What do you think is the biggest issue faced by women in Indian Football?
Bala: The biggest issue is encouragement and motivation which is almost nil from public. We have a very great support from AIFF and organizations like WIFA but it would be overwhelming that people know us and admire us for what we perform for our country.
Do you think somebody has been inspired by you?
Bala: I am sure people are getting inspired each day because I give my 100% on the field.
Advice for young budding talent?
Bala: To the young talent, I would like to say that whenever you get opportunities work hard, be in discipline, know what be best for you and never give up.
How do you celebrate this day if you were back in your hometown/state?
Bala: Every day is a women’s day, I celebrate every day of my life.
‘Make it happen’ is the slogan for the International women’s day; how do you connect with it? What message would you send out?
Bala: I can relate with it so much because when I started playing football I always wanted to play in the senior team. It was my dream and I worked really hard to reach were I am today. But I never disclosed my desire to anyone. I would say whatever your dream or desire are don’t just think and MAKE IT HAPPEN.Published 08 Mar 2015, 18:38 IST