News18» News»Sports»Bala Devi Signs With Rangers, Becomes First Indian Woman Footballer to Play Professionally in the World

Bala Devi Signs With Rangers, Becomes First Indian Woman Footballer to Play Professionally in the World

Bala (Photo Credit: Twitter/Rangers)

Bala (Photo Credit: Twitter/Rangers)

Indian International Bala signed with Scottish club Rangers from Manipur Police, to become the first Indian woman to play professionally anywhere in the world.

Scottish team Rangers signed Bala Devi from Manipur Police on an 18-month-deal after a successful spell on trial at Rangers in November. She became the first Indian woman to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world.

Rangers confirmed the news in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the move is subject to 'international clearance'.

The 29-year-old is currently the leading goal scorer for the Indian national women's team, netting 52 in 58 outings since 2010, which also makes her the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region.

She had finished the top-scorer in the last edition of the Indian Women's League, scoring 25 in 7 games, and was also the top-scorer in the women's nationals last year with 21 goals. She has also served as her national team captain in a distinguished international career, which began when she was called up aged just 15.

Bala has a prolific scoring record with over 100 goals in 120 games in domestic football. She has been the top scorer in the Indian Women's League for the past two seasons and has also been named as All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women's Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.

"To play my football in Europe with one of the biggest clubs in the world is something I could never have dreamed of," Bala said after signing with Rangers.

"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.

"I'm very grateful to Amy McDonald, the coaching staff and the entire management at Rangers for believing in me.

"Also, this move wouldn't have been possible without Bengaluru FC who have been instrumental throughout. I can't wait to get to Glasgow, join my teammates and give this my best shot."

"We are thrilled to welcome Bala to Rangers. She is an exciting signing on so many levels," said Amy McDonald, Women's and Girls' manager at Rangers.

"Bala is a playmaker who likes to play as a number 10 and we believe she will contribute goals and assists to the team.

"She will provide us with an attacking threat and a versatility that we can utilise to our benefit going into the 2020 season.

"Bala is already a role model for girls across India and they will now be able to see her travel across the world to become a professional footballer.

"Her move can be inspirational for players everywhere to show them where football can take them and what it can help them achieve."

"I would like to warmly welcome Bala to both Rangers and to Glasgow. We believe this is a huge step for the women's game both in Scotland and in general," said Craig Mulholland, Rangers Head of Academy.

"Rangers are committed to building a successful women's team for years to come and the acquisition of a talent like Bala is another step towards our goal of domestic and European success."

Rangers in their press release, credited their partners in India, Bengaluru FC for facilitating the move.

"We are delighted at Bala securing what is a historic move to Rangers Football Club," said Mandar Tamhane, CEO of Bengaluru FC.

"Once we knew that Bala had done more than enough to impress the coaching staff at the club during her trial stint in November, we were determined to help to make the move happen in any way that we could.

"Bala's signing with Rangers sets a very encouraging precedent for women footballers from India and we are glad that Bengaluru FC's partnership with Rangers is creating the right kind of impact in such a short period of time."