Rangers Football Club on Wednesday, announced the signing of India National team attacker Bala Devi from Manipur Police Sports Club, subject to international clearance. The 29-year-old joins the club on an 18-month-deal after a successful spell on trial at Rangers in November. This will make Bala the first Indian woman to become a professional footballer anywhere in the world and she also becomes Rangers’ first Asian international footballer.
Bala is the current top scorer for the Indian national women’s team, netting an impressive 52 times in 58 games since 2010, also making her the top international goal scorer in the South Asian region. She has also served as her national team captain in a distinguished international career, which began when she was called up aged just 15. Bala also has a prolific goalscoring record at the domestic level with over 100 goals in 120 games. She has been the top scorer in the Indian Women’s League for the past two seasons and has also been named as All India Football Federation (AIFF) Women’s Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.
Reacting to this, Bala said: “To play football in Europe with one of the biggest clubs in the world is something I could never have dreamed of. I hope my move to Rangers serves as an example to all the women footballers back home in India who dream of taking up the sport professionally. I’m looking forward to making the most of the top-class facilities and coaching and I am certain I will benefit immensely from the standard of training and competition. I’m very grateful to Amy McDonald, the coaching staff and the entire management at Rangers for believing in me. Also, this move wouldn’t have been possible without Bengaluru FC who have been instrumental throughout. I can’t wait to get to Glasgow, join my teammates and give this my best shot.”
Amy McDonald, Women’s and Girls’ Football Manager at Rangers FC said: “We are thrilled to welcome Bala to Rangers. She is an exciting signing on so many levels. Bala is a playmaker who likes to play as a number 10 and we believe she will contribute goals and assists to the team. She will provide us with an attacking threat and a versatility that we can utilise to our benefit going into the 2020 season. Bala is already a role model for girls across India and they will now be able to see her travel across the world to become a professional footballer. Her move can be inspirational for players everywhere to show them where football can take them and what it can help them achieve.”
Rangers Head of Academy Craig Mulholland said: “I would like to warmly welcome Bala to both Rangers and to Glasgow. We believe this is a huge step for the women’s game both in Scotland and in general. Rangers are committed to building a successful women’s team for years to come and the acquisition of a talent like Bala is another step towards our goal of domestic and European success.”
Bala’s arrival in Glasgow has been possible thanks to the network that has been provided through the club's partnership with Bengaluru FC that was announced in September 2019. Mandar Tamhane, CEO of Bengaluru FC said: "We are delighted at Bala securing what is a historic move to Rangers Football Club. “Once we knew that Bala had done more than enough to impress the coaching staff at the club during her trial stint in November, we were determined to help to make the move happen in any way that we could. Bala’s signing with Rangers sets a very encouraging precedent for women footballers from India and we are glad that Bengaluru FC’s partnership with Rangers is creating the right kind of impact in such a short period of time."