India’s Bala Devi creates history after scoring in Europe

Bala Devi, hailing from Manipur, created history on Sunday in Europe’s Scottish Women’s Premier League as she became the first Indian women footballer to score in Europe. Playing as a striker for Rangers FC, Bala scored against Motherwell in Rangers’ 9-0 rout. She also became the first Indian women footballer to sign for a top tier European club earlier in 2020.

Slotting in the final goal of the game for Rangers, Bala Devi assured her club’s three points which took them to the 2nd position in the table behind Glasgow City. Coming off from the bench in the 65th minute, the star Indian footballer, netted the 9th goal in the 85th minute. Her teammates Kirsty Howat and Lizzie Arnot scored a hat-trick each while Megan Bell and Daina Bourma were also on target.

Bala’s rapid rise to the top stage came after her feat of 26 goals in 7 matches while playing for Manipur Police. She is the current top scorer for the Indian national women’s team, having scored 52 times in 58 games since 2010. Her tally makes her the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region.

Named as All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women’s Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016, she has a record at the domestic level with over 100 goals in 120 games.

Growing up she played football mainly with boys. She was a part of the Manipur U19 team that took part in the Under-19 Women’s Championship in Assam in 2002. She was declared the best player of the tournament in 2002 and 2003. Devi went on to represent the Manipur senior women’s team in the India women’s football championship.

In January 2020, Devi signed a professional contract of 18 months with Scottish Women’s Premier League club Rangers, making her one of the few Indian women to become a professional footballer.