India Women’s prolific forward Bala Devi has been named as the AIFF Women’s Footballer of the Year 2020-21, while youngster Manisha Kalyan clinched the AIFF Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year 2020-21 award.
Both had an incredible display of performance last season with both club and country and bettered others in the section by far and are rightly handed out the awards. Both the awardees were selected by the national women’s team head coach Maymol Rocky in consultation with AIFF Interim Technical Director Savio Medeira.
Bala Devi and Manisha Kalyan awarded at the annual AIFF awards 2020-21
This is third time that Bala Devi, the mercurial Indian forward has won the prestigious Women’s Footballer of the year award, after having won it previously two years in a row in 2014 and 2015.
Bala Devi currently plays for Rangers Women’s FC in Scotland, where she made her debut in February last year and created history when she scored her first competitive goal for the team against Motherwell back in December. Bala Devi yet remains the first Indian woman footballer to sign a professional contract in Europe and play for an European club, let alone score a goal in European competitions.
“I’m so happy to have won this award. A big thank you to the AIFF and all the fans for their support. I’d also like to thank my coaches — both at my club in Rangers, and in the national team, and also and all the coaches that I’ve played under in the past. A big thank you also to my family and all my teammates for all the support.” Bala Devi said in the official AIFF press release on receiving the prestigious award.
“I arrived in Scotland last year, just before the global lockdown had started, and acclimatising to any new place in such conditions has been extremely difficult. But with their help, I have been able to focus on the things that are most important, and keep myself in top shape, both mentally and physically,” the 31 year old added, as she told on her experience in Europe.
Manisha Kalyan, the 19 year old forward who plays for Gokulam Kerala FC, received the other award in the women’s category as she was named the AIFF Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year for the first time.
Manisha, former India U-17 and u-19 international, made her senior national team debut against Hong Kong back in 2019 and since then her career graph only had a vertical direction. Manisha had also received the Emerging Player of the Tournament Award at the 2019-20 Indian Women’s League, as she led Gokulam Kerala FC to the coveted title.
“Thank you AIFF for choosing me for the emerging player of the year award. This award motivates me to push further to work harder for my team and achieve our goals.” Manisha expressed her delight on receiving the honour.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff of the national team who taught me and made me capable enough for this award. I would further extend my gratitude to my teammates without whom the award couldn’t have been possible. My family, my coaches, teachers — a big thank you to all,” added the talented youngster.
The AIFF Award for the Best Referee 2020-21 was awarded to Tejas Nagvencar while Sumanta Dutta was adjudged the Best Assistant Referee award.
“I would like to congratulate the award winners for the season as Indian football continues to move forward together. They are inspirations for one and all, and all of us are proud of them and share the joy.” Praful Patel, President of AIFF stated in his message, congratulating all.