New Delhi, April 1
Footballer Bala Devi, who created history last year when she signed an 18-month contract with Scottish Women’s Premier League team Rangers FC, says she’s comfortable with the Glasgow club. Bala became the first Indian woman to play outside the country professionally, though she did that at the age of 30. She says the transition into top-flight Scottish football was “easier than expected”, and she will encourage Indian girls to try playing in leagues abroad. Bala Devi played many games for Rangers before the league was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bala was forced to extend her stay with the team in Glasgow owing to the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis. “Flights to India are not available at the moment. But I am absolutely fine here. I am totally safe. I am doing fine and trying to remain indoors. I am being taken good care by my club officials,” Bala said on the phone from Glasgow. “I am indoors and following the government and club advice. I am out to the market only for buying essentials and for a jog once every 3-4 days.
She works out at her house and the club keeps giving advice on how to maintain as much fitness as she can while staying at home. Bala Devi is among the leading players of the continent to join the Asian Football Confederation’s #BreakTheChain video campaign, aimed at raising awareness in the fight against coronavirus.
Asked if she misses her family, Bala said: “It would be good to be with my family but lots of people across the world are facing the same issue. It is best not to travel at this time. So for me it’s best to stay back in Glasgow and wait and see the next stop.”
Dream come true
“I have always wanted to play abroad. It’s a great experience for me. Once I am home I will encourage more girls to try their best to play abroad,” Bala said.
She forward said the league is much more demanding than anything she’d experienced in the past. “I have learnt a lot. This is the first time in my career when I have been in full-time training through a proper pre-season and league. The league is much more demanding as it’s physical and fast and will go on through full steam. The infrastructure at the club is world-class and the coaching and management has been top-class and I learn something new every day. I have also been blessed to have friendly teammates, some of whom I share my flat with. I never thought it will be so good.”
Asked about her thoughts on the future, Bala said: “I am obviously looking to restart the season.” — PTI