Why record-making Bala Devi looks up to Magnificent Mary

Bala Devi, who became the first female Indian footballer to play professionally and score in Europe, draws inspiration from India’s legendary boxer, Mary Kom.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian football star Bala Devi has been busy creating new records for the country this year.

Devi became the first female Indian footballer to play professionally in Europe when she signed for Rangers Women FC.

Bala Devi’s exploits are sure to inspire many young women footballers back home, but where does the striker herself gain the confidence from? The answer is not surprising.

Mary Kom is a big source of inspiration for me. She came from such humble beginnings and through her hard work, she broke so many records. Even after becoming a mother, she continues to win laurels for the country,” Bala Devi told the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

“We interacted at the Asian Games in 2014 and watched her train. She is a very friendly person and also supported us during our matches,” added Bala Devi, who hails from Manipur, the same state as Mary Kom, a multiple world boxing champion and an Olympic medal winner.

The history makers

Bala Devi scripted another piece of history last week when she scored her first goal for Rangers Women in a 9-0 victory against Motherwell Women. She thus became the first female Indian footballer to score in a European league.

This feat led Bala Devi being named as one of the nominees for the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) ‘Player of the Week’ alongside stars like Sam Kerr and Heung-Min Son.

“After the goal, a lot of people wished me and many were talking and writing about it, which made me feel very proud. After that, I was nominated for the AFC Player of the Week and seeing my name on the list alongside such icons made me happy,” stated Devi.

“I just want everyone to continue supporting us so we can keep achieving bigger things for the country in the future.

“I have always stayed positive and have wanted to be an inspiration for all the girls and young players in India who want to play internationally. It is something that has always been on my mind and I take it into account every time I step on to the pitch,” signed off Bala Devi.