Bala Devi Interview

By This Is Ibrox
 February 21, 2020

On 29th January 2020, Rangers Women’s Football Club announced the signing of Indian National Team superstar Bala Devi.

The signing made Bala the first Indian woman to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world. As well as this Bala become the first ever Asian international footballer at Rangers.

We recently spoke to Bala about her move, life in Glasgow and her expectations for the season ahead.

This Is Ibrox| Bala, welcome to Rangers Football Club. Can you tell me how your last few weeks have been in joining up with the club and settling in with your team mates? How are you finding Glasgow so far?

Bala Devi|Its been fantastic since the day I joined. I have enjoyed every training session and my team mates are very friendly. There is good competition and good spirit in the squad as well.

Glasgow is very different for me. I come from a village in India where Imphal is the closest city and Kolkata the closest big city so it is a remote area. Glasgow is a cosmopolitan city and there are many people from around the world which is great. The weather is cold but I am getting used to it. The food is very different as well but I am adjusting.

The club itself is really historic and famous and now everyone in India is also following what I am doing here.

This Is Ibrox|Your move to Rangers goes down in history making you the first Indian woman’s professional footballer and Rangers first-ever Asian international footballer. Can you describe your feelings on the move? How proud are your family and friends?

Bala Devi|I am very happy to be the first fully professional Indian female footballer. It was always my dream to play full time and train full time at a historic club such as this and in a full time competitive league. In India the league is short and we dont get an opportunity to train day in and day out.

On being the first Asian International Footballer at the club is something I was not aware of till it was actually brought up ! I know little about the league as I have not been able to follow this in India but I am getting used to it and learning much more now!

My family and friends are my pillars of strength and have supported me since I have been a little girl so of course they are proud but recently they have also got son many messages and call and visits from people congratulating them on this move as well.

This Is Ibrox|Can you tell me about how the move come about? When did you first hear about the interest from Rangers?

Bala Devi| I was told be my representative Anuj Kichlu that Rangers Womens Football Club were looking to recruit some high quality players and there after the club I think liked my profile so they invited me to come over for a trial in November. Once I came across I was completely over joyed on seeing the facilities and the vision for the Womens Team. When they offered me a contract it was one of the best feelings I have had in my life.

This Is Ibrox|How important is your move to Rangers for women’s football, particularly in Asia. What advice do you have for those who aspire to play outside of Asia?

Bala Devi|There are a few Asian players in England from countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia. However I dont know of anyone from the South Asia playing in Europe. It is a big step for me and I hope to do well so that it can pave the way for more players from my country and the region playing in Europe. The girls from our region need to aspire to play full time in a full time league with training every day.

This Is Ibrox|Can you tell me what type of player you are and what your goals are for this season with Rangers?

Bala Devi|I am an attacking player. I started off as a centre forward and can play a Number 9 or Number 10 role. I have also played as a midfielder and a winger for my national team so I will play wherever required and wherever the team thinks its best. For the season with Rangers we aim to finish as high up as we can and personally I aim to give a 100% in every match where I am given a chance and every practice session.

This Is Ibrox|You have an outstanding record for the Indian Women’s National Team scoring 52 goals in 58 games since 2010, are you confident that you can bring that goal scoring ability to the Rangers team?

Bala Devi|I have been playing for the senior national team of India since the age of 15 in 2005. When we started the facilites are not what it was today. I don't have videos or pictures of my early career. Since 2010 I have scored 52 goals but I have always aspired to play a a higher level.

Our national team mainly plays within South Asia and in the last two years we went twice to Spain for tours so after seeing the facilities there I have been pushing myself to play in Europe. I hope I can bring goals to the team but to be honest I have not thought about it I just want to take it one match at a time giving my best every match.

This Is Ibrox|Looking ahead to the first game of the SWPL season this Sunday against Hearts. How have preparations been? Are you confident of getting off to a good start?

Bala Devi|Preparations have been really good. For myself its the first time I have gone through such an intensive and comprehensive pre season. We missed out on the two Cup matches due to the postponements and now I am really looking forward to the First Scottish Womens Premier League match. Its also a home match so I hope fans turn out to support us.

This Is Ibrox|Are there any stand out players in the Rangers Women’s team that you are particularly excited to play with this season? What makes them stand out?

Bala Devi|There are some exciting players. I am still getting to know everyone so not naming anyone in particular now. I am also enjoying playing with Sonia as she is also my flatmate so we get along well.

This Is Ibrox|How much have you learnt in your first few weeks at Rangers? How you benefited from training at the Hummel Training Centre at all?

Bala Devi|I am adjusting my style of play to suit the more physical quicker passing game we have here compared to that in India. I am still getting used to being in full time training and in a support system day in and day out.

I am not used to training and such a good overall facility. The training centre facilities make it ideal for us as we get the benefit of really good grounds, the gym, nutrition and all the support facilities at the club.

This Is Ibrox|What message would you give to the Rangers fans to encourage them to support the Women’s team this season?

Bala Devi|Its a big year for the Rangers Womens Football Team. We have some good players who play exciting football. Please come out and support us. There is nothing like playing in front of your fans and it will help us and encourage us to do better.

Thanks for reading, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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