It was not very long ago that women’s football languished on the fringes of international football. Placed 92nd by the end of 2009, the team has come a long way since. So much so that they were able to leapfrog to 55th spot on the charts, as was recently announced by the world’s football governing body FIFA.
“I am happy with every improvement the team has made. But I think we can do even better and be in the top 35-40 with a bit more hard work and more international matches,” Bala Devi told TOI.
The progress and the positive aura emanating from the Indian dressing room has been like a breath of fresh air for the Indian football fans. And whilst the leading goalscorer in South Asia has earned a lot of praise for the upswing in India’s fortunes, it is something that she doesn’t really look at but it is a yardstick that does affect the team time and again.
Earlier this year, she became the first Indian woman footballer to secure a professional contract abroad by signing an 18-month deal with Scottish club Rangers FC. In doing so, she also became the first Asian international to join Rangers Women.
Having represented the country for over 14 years, Bala is the most experienced footballers in the team. The 29-year-old forward is also the highest goal scorer in the Indian Women’s League (IWL) across all seasons. She had made a trip to Glasgow for a week-long trial earlier last year where she got to train with the main squad and also feature in a practice match.