Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh announced that Indian women footballers Bala Devi and Oinam Bembem Devi have been given promotions in the police department, owing to their sporting achievements. This comes a few days after Bala scored her first goal for Scottish side Rangers Women’s FC, where she is currently playing, having signed with the club back in January.
Singh, in his tweet, said that the promotions of Bala and Bembem to the Inspector rank in the police department was an acknowledgement of their contributions to women’s football internationally.
“Acknowledging their contributions to Women’s Football in the international level the State Cabinet has decided to promote world-renown Manipuri female footballers Ngangom Bala Devi and Oinam Bembem, who brought great laurels to the state, to Inspector Rank in Police Department," Singh tweeted.
Acknowledging their contributions to Women’s Football in the international level the State Cabinet has decided to promote world-renown Manipuri female footballers Ngangom Bala Devi and Oinam Bembem, who brought great laurels to the state, to Inspector Rank in Police Department. pic.twitter.com/SU9qAwxAXJ— N.Biren Singh (@NBirenSingh) December 9, 2020
Bembem is fondly called the ‘Durga of Indian Football’ while Bala has been taking women’s football in the country to greater heights with her path-breaking move to Rangers Women’s FC.
Bembem, who scored 32 goals for India between 1995-2016, is currently involved in spreading awareness about the game and has been coaching girls on various levels of the sport. Bembem was the team manager for Manipur Police SC in the 2019-20 Indian Women’s League and has also been involved in coaching the U-17 girls ahead of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in India.
Bembem broke grounds during her playing career when she became the first female footballer from India to play abroad when she represented New Radiant Sports Club in the Maldives. Not only did she play for them, she ended up as the top scorer of the league helping them to the title. Bembem, now 40, also played for Eastern Sporting Union in the first edition of the Indian Women’s League and was a winner. Bembem is a recipient of both the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri.
Bala is the most prolific goalscorer for India women’s football in the last decade. The AIFF Women’s Player of the Year 2015 and 2016 has 52 goals in 58 appearances for India in her senior career since 2010, which also makes her the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region. Bala 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 made the move to Rangers in January this year becoming the first Indian woman to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world. As recently as three days ago, Bala opened her account for Rangers to become the first Indian woman footballer to score in Europe.