Star Indian woman footballer Bala Devi says she took inspiration from boxing legend Mary Kom, who achieved unprecedented success as a sportsperson despite having humble roots.
Bala, the first Indian woman to play professional football in a top-flight league in Europe, talked about an interaction with six-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom during the 2014 Asian Games. “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 break records and win laurels for the country,” Bala said.
“We interacted at the Asian Games in 2014 and watched her train. She is a very friendly person and also supported us during our games,” Bala told AIFF TV.
Bala recently scored her first goal for the Rangers FC in the Scottish Women’s Premier League in a 9-0 decimation of Motherwell FC. She signed an 18-month contract with Rangers in January.
“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,” she said.
“I just want everyone to continue supporting us so we can keep achieving bigger things for the country in the future,” the 30-year-old said.
Bala was named as a nominee for the AFC International Player of the Week alongside star players such as Iran’s Sardar Azmoun, Korea Republic’s Son Heung-min and Japanese icon Saki Kumagai. “Ever since I gave my trials at this club (Rangers), I wanted to inspire every Indian player back home. I 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,” she said.
She said the international exposure provided by the All India Football Federation has played a key role in her development. “The AIFF gave us so many international exposure tours, I gained a lot of experience of playing against European teams and I realised that I can play and compete with them,” quipped Bala.