Bala Devi: India must develop ISL-type league for women


Bala Devi: India must develop ISL-type league for women

TH30 BALA 1

Bala Devi says women’s team in order to progress towards future glory, India needs a league like ISL. Ngangom Bala Devi is the only Indian women’s footballer who plays in Europe. She plays as a forward for Scottish Women’s Premier League club Rangers.

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“I think if a few youngsters do well in the U-17 World Cup, they might be called up for the senior team camps as well, so this would be a good transition. These two years will be very exciting for Indian football, but I think the follow-up is even more important,” Devi told Press Trust of India in an interview.  

The girl from Manipur started her career in 2016 at Manipur Police Club. Devi grew up playing the game mainly with boys. She was a part of the Manipur U-19 team. She played for the Under-19 Women’s Championship in Assam in 2002.

“We need to have a good league and a legacy after these two landmark events. Girls need to play full time in schools, colleges, academies and finally in fully professional or semi-professional teams.

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Devi is positive about Indian football for women in India. She says “I am hoping for an ISL-type scenario for women’s football in future,” Devi added from Scotland, where she is currently based.

On Tuesday, FIFA declared the refreshed match plan for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The 2021 World Cup is set to take place in India. The initial match is set to be played in Guwahati. The competition is set to be played from 17th of February to 7th of March next year.

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“We do not get much exposure but with Asian Cup, hopefully, we can get a lot of interest in women’s football in India. I think for the country, it’s a huge step but we can follow it up with even more regular tournaments in the future.

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“We never know, but hopefully, we will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup someday. I hope clubs do follow and invest in women’s football after this tournament so we have full time women’s professional players in India,” said the player from Manipur.

“Personally, I am very excited about this opportunity to play at home in the biggest tournament at Asian level. “But, it’s difficult to say how we will perform in this tournament. Let’s hope we put in a lot of good practice and play a lot of matches ahead of the tournament. Then you never know with home support we could get a few favourable results.” – Devi on Indian team chances of winning the U-17 Women’s World Cup.

Indian women’s team has done well in the past in the Asian Cup. The team claimed two runners-up and one third-place finish. The 2021 U-17 Women’s World Cup will be the country’s first participation since 2003. Devi is hopeful about the exposure and Indian future at women’s football as the games will be televised.

“In the past, we did not get much access to women’s football on television so I don’t really know what the level was. Right now, we get to see some matches and we know that Japan, Australia, South Korea are all very strong nations in women’s football and do well at the World Cup level as well.”

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“Right now, we cannot compare with them. Japan has won the women’s World Cup in 2011. To play with them would be great exposure for us.”

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