Bala Devi signs for Rangers Football Club

Bala Devi signs for Rangers FC, becomes first Indian woman footballer to turn pro

Bala Devi, who has already had one stint in Maldives with New Radiants Sports Club, said the move comes at the right time in her career.

Indian team striker Ngangom Bala Devi has signed an 18-month deal with Scottish Premier League club Rangers FC to become the first Indian women footballer to turn professional, it was announced here on Wednesday.

The Indian attacker, who has an impressive 52 goals in 58 games for the national team, had attended a trial at Rangers in November and has been singed on the back her show. She will wear the number 10 jersey.

"From a young age I felt that I could play abroad and this was my dream. I have an 18-month contract and was given the number 10. I have to work hard and do well there so that it's a motivation for the girls coming up. I want to make the country proud," said the 29-year-old.

Bala Devi, who has already had one stint in Maldives with New Radiants Sports Club, said the move comes at the right time in her career.

"In Scotland, I was very confident because I've been playing for the national team for 14 years, so I felt that I can make it if I tried my best. We played a friendly there and I scored twice, and I'm sure I will score in the league as well," she said.

Speaking at the announcement, Mark Hateley, Head of Club Ambassadors and Business Development, said: "She comes with a lot of goals and experience. A goalscorer always catches the eye. And we trust in her, you don't give the number 10 jersey willy-nilly."

The move comes on the back of the Glasgow club's partnership with Bengaluru FC and club CEO Mandar Tamhane thanked a multitude of people who played their part in securing the work permit required to make the transfer possible. In addition to the lawyers from the Scottish club's side, letters from All Indian Football Federation, Sunil Chhetri, Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh and Oinam Bembem Devi played a big part in the transfer being cleared by the Scottish league panel, he revealed.

Having played a crucial role in Bala Devi's transfer, Tamhane revealed that the clubs will enter into the Indian women's football scene only when there is a proper league structure in place.

"We would like to have a women's team that trains for a whole year and plays a proper season, like the men's team. So once we have a proper 3-4 month long league, then we would definitely put out a women's team.