Earlier this year, Indian forward Bala Devi became the first Indian woman to sign a professional contract with a European club, as she inked a deal with Scottish giants, Rangers FC. Talking about her move to Scotland, Indian women's team captain Ashalata Devi has said that it will inspire generations of female footballers to come.
"Bala di playing for Rangers is a very big opportunity as it shows us the way to play abroad and for the next generation too. I hope the young generation gets inspired by her and Aditi (Chauhan), and think that they can also earn opportunities with foreign clubs like her. Everyone has a dream to play for a top club and so, everyone will work hard and give their full dedication to the game. The effect will be huge on the youngsters in the near future," said Ashalata Devi in a live chat with AIFF TV.
Ashalata, considered the best center-back in the country currently, had earlier been nominated for the best 'Women's Player of the Year' prize in 2019 by the AFC. She said that while she too would be open to playing for a club abroad, for now her focus was purely on the 2022 Women's Asian Cup which India will be hosting.
"Every player wants to play for a professional club abroad but as we know, India is hosting the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022 and I want to be focused completely on that for the time being. If I get the opportunity to play overseas, then I will surely go and play but my focus is now on the AFC Asian Cup," she said.
"My country and the national team is always my first focus. So, I want to share my experiences first with all my juniors and I don’t want to see them eventually come in the struggle, since the adaptation process takes time. Once I think that I have contributed all I can for my country, then I will quit the game," she added.
SAFF title in 2019 most memorable moment of career: Ashalata Devi
It is nearing a decade since Ashalata Devi made her first appearance for the country in 2011, and she has played in numerous matches and tournaments since then. However, when she was asked to pick her favorite moment of her international career so far, the win against Nepal in the 2019 SAFF Championship stood out.
"The SAFF title in Nepal in 2019 has to be the most memorable moment for me," she said. "We had lost to Nepal at home only some time back and before the final match, everyone got emotional and we promised Maymol Ma’am (Head Coach Maymol Rocky) that we will bring this trophy to you. In the semi-finals, we faced Bangladesh and all the Nepal fans were supporting Bangladesh, so we also got confused in the situation," she recounted.
"On the final day, I told the girls to imagine that we are playing in our country and the fans are supporting us, so don’t concentrate on them and just focus on your game. At the start, I felt that a lot of players won't be able to handle the pressure but I was happy that the junior players played in such a manner that I did not feel that something is missing. All my juniors trusted me, performed brilliantly as a team and gave us the trophy," Ashalata Devi signed off.