Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], January 27 (ANI): The city of Chennai is currently a true confluence of India's best talents in women's football - the National camps for both the Seniors and the Under-20 probables are running simultaneously at the SSN Ground and the Home Games Sports Arena, respectively.
While the Blue Tigresses are currently preparing for the upcoming Women's Olympic Qualifiers scheduled in April, the U-20 team will leave for Dhaka, Bangladesh, next week to participate in the SAFF U-20 championships. Staying together at the same hotel, the probables of both teams are an excited lot; training hard and looking forward to showcasing their talents for the National teams.
But then, there is one more reason that makes the players extra motivated; even the seasoned campaigners are thrilled that Ngangom Bala Devi is back in the National camp after a long time. There is a buzz in the air: "Bala didi is back" - every camper is delighted that one of the country's finest players has returned to the National camp to share the stage with them.
Indian Senior Women's Team Head Coach Thomas Dennerby has called 30 players for the camp, and players like Sangita Basfore, Jabamani Tudu, Karthika and Bala Devi are back after a long period.
One of India's finest woman footballers, Bala has thrice been named the AIFF's Women's Player of the Year and played for the Scottish Club, Rangers FC, from 2020-2022. The star Indian striker's British stint was cut short last year because of an ACL injury, prompting her to return to India. However, she has recovered from her injury since then.
"Well, I am back in the national team after three years. It's a rather surreal feeling. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time, and now that the moment has arrived, I feel emotional, to be honest. Life's certainly good and kind to me now. My rehab process was long, but I am glad that I am now fit and ready to play," Bala Devi told AIFF.
"After my stint in Rangers, I received some offers from different clubs in other countries. But I wanted to come back and be in contention to represent my country. I will once again wear the India jersey - the best that can happen to me," she added.
Talking about how she feels about the growth of women's football in India now, Bala said, "Women's football in India is growing immensely, and I feel we have reached the level where any of us can play the game professionally abroad. Manisha, Soumya, and Grace, who are playing in different clubs outside India, have set a standard for women's football. I hope parents watch these girls and let their kids play the beautiful game. We have to show that we are capable of anything and fear none." (ANI)