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Football: With two recent hat-tricks Manipuri striker Ratnabala Devi shines at the IWL

Football: With two recent hat-tricks Manipuri striker Ratnabala Devi shines at the IWL

Md Imtiaz

Published: 20 May 2019 9:38 AM GMT
Manipuri footballer N Ratanbala Devi has had a brilliant run in the ongoing Indian Women's League football tournament where she earned the limelight after scoring a scintillating hat-trick for Sethu FC, in a match against FC Kolhapur City last week. Her hat-trick powered Sethu FC to beat FC Kolhapur City by 9-0. Ratanbala scored two in quick succession even before 30 minutes of the match and completed her hat-trick with a little over 10 minutes of regulation time to go. Even the previous week, she scored a hat-trick against SAI-STC Cuttack to keep her team at the top of Group II in the league.
"I was extremely happy after scoring the two hat-tricks for Sethu. After I scored two goals, I was very eager to score the third,"
said Ratanbala in an interview with The Bridge. The teenager is considered as one of the most prolific players among the 20-member Indian squad during the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Two years ago, she was a part of the India U-19 team and earned a senior cap in last year since which she has been a proven pillar for the team. Ratanbala has taken a long stride from her humble beginnings in Imphal. “In my childhood days, I used to play football with boys. Then I played for the district and eventually played for SAI. From there, I started playing for Chaoba ma’am’s (assistant coach Chaoba Devi Langam) club in the state and then with KRYPSA,”
she said. Ratanbala expresses her gratitude towards her family for supporting her passion for football since her early days. “My parents have been always supportive and always encouraged me to do my best," she says. When asked about her favourite position of playing, she says, “I have had the opportunity to play in all the positions over the years. My favourite position is of a striker as I like to score goals for my team." Ratanbala is heavily inspired by Barcelona legend Lionel Messi's gameplay and she says that she tries her best to imitate her idol from his dhort passes and swift dribbling style. This edition of the Indian Women’s League is the largest season so far with as many as 12 teams participating. The teams have been divided into two groups of six each. The teams have played each other once and the top two from each group have advanced to the semifinal. The semi-finals and finals will be held on May 20 and May 22, respectively.
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