New Delhi: Ngangom Bala Devi, who has just made the transition from little-known to a well-known footballer, has said MC Mary Kom’s ability to juggle boxing, parenting and public life ‘motivated’ her to write an inspiring story of her own.
“She (Mary Kom) is such a legend. I am only amazed at how she manages boxing and all other important things even now; she is mother to three children. She inspires me,” Devi said over the phone to this agency, Sunday.
The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ could be heard from the other side even before the champion boxer’s full name was mentioned.
Devi recently scripted history by signing up with renowned Scottish side Rangers FC to become the first Indian woman to play outside the country professionally. She is also the first Asian to sign for the Scottish club.
Football has been Devi’s ‘life’, a partner whose all-encompassing presence often makes her feel the world starts and ends with it. So much so, that she has also never felt the need to get married, start a family of her own and then begin another innings, just like one of her role models – Mary Kom.
The Manipuri footballer, from Irengbam in Bishnupur district, turned 30 Sunday and when asked if the youngest of four siblings plans to tie the nuptial knot in near future, she responded in the negative. This is because Devi feels that she cannot thrive in sport while being a wife and mother.
“I have never thought about marriage. My parents also never tried to convince me. My focus is only on football. That is all,” said Devi, who also looks up to the great Oinam Bembem Devi.
“I have learnt so much from didi (Bembem Devi), she has been there from the time I started,” said Devi, who has also captained the national team.
Employed with Manipur police as a constable, Devi credited her father for backing her all along. “There is still long way to go but without my father’s support, I would say I would not have come this far. He was the one who would take me to football matches in the locality. Being a footballer himself, he understood my passion,” Devi said.
While her life has been documented since she signed on the dotted lines for Rangers, Devi recalled the time of struggle when she would not have enough to buy herself football kits.
Devi remembered the days when she would go out and find herself playing among boys in her locality before eventually forming an all-girls team called ICSA. Things gradually began to change after she represented Manipur in the U-19 nationals in 2001-02.
But Devi’s career got the much-needed impetus when she was called to the senior Indian team. She was just 15 them. . Current she India’s top-scorer having netted 52 times in 58 games.
Devi was named the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Women’s Player of the Year twice — in 2015 and 2016.
PNN & Agencies