NEW DELHI, Dec 12: 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 the 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. � PTI