All India Football Federation president Praful Patel said all players should "take inspiration" from Bala Devi, who is currently on a professional contract with Rangers, the first Indian woman footballer to do so.
Interacting with national team players across all age-groups in a video conference on Friday, the AIFF president told Bala: "We are extremely proud of your achievements. You have shown the road ahead for budding footballers, and have proved that our women footballers are no way inferior to any. I am sure you will make others - your colleagues, the U-17 women's team girls to dream too."
Bala who is currently in Glasgow said that the unprecedented exposure stints with the national team made her confident as a player. "In 2018-19 we were constantly playing, or camping. It made me more confident of my abilities as a player, and made me believe in myself. We played against so many countries including matches in Europe," she said. "Those matches helped me immensely to get myself the current club contract."
Bala's mention seemed to hint towards the women's senior team's 25 friendlies in 2018-19 season, even though Bala was not a part of the national team in most of those games.At that time, Bala and six other Manipuri players were on boycott following trouble with assistant coach Chaoba Devi and coach Maymol Rocky.
🗣️ AIFF President @praful_patel to @BalaDevi_10: We are proud of your achievements. We hope you keep showing the way to the younger girls in #IndianFootball ⚽#BackTheBlue 💙 #ShePower 👧 pic.twitter.com/sLVO5EGEC1— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) May 16, 2020
However, national team goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan also stressed on the importance of the international matches they played. "On behalf of everyone in the team I need to thank you for all the exposure tours," Aditi told the AIFF President.
"The standard of football in our team has improved drastically. Results have followed and it has made us more confident, and helped us mature into better players."
Striker Dangmei Grace added: "The more we got to play the more we improved. The strong international calendar helped us a lot. It was exciting, and we look forward for such matches. Thank you."
Patel, through the conference, interacted at length with all the players on an individual basis to understand their situation during the Covid-19 pandemic and get to know their schedules and mindset.
Meanwhile men's national team central defender Sandesh Jhingan maintained that everyone should "do their best to stay fit."
"We cannot control what is not in our hands. But we need to utilise the time to stay fit," he expressed. "On my part, we have been provided schedules from the national coach and Professor (Luka Radman) and I am sticking to it."
Taking it a bit further, iconic national team striker Sunil Chhetri has urged every footballer to strictly follow their own schedules during the lockdown phase.
"As everyone stays locked in their homes, meal and sleep timings are going awry. But as players we can't afford to do that. So please stick to your schedules," Chhetri stated.