Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the Arjuna-winning goalkeeper of India and Bengaluru FC, feels Bala Devi’s “path-breaking” journey in Scotland will inspire even the male footballers in India.
After joining Rangers Women FC in January this year, Bala made her first Scottish Women’s Premier League start in Rangers’ narrow 1-0 win against Spartans on Sunday. She had made appearances in pre-season friendly games earlier.
“It [Bala’s maiden start for Rangers Women FC] is a proud moment for the country. She is a true example of hard work and dedication. Her path-breaking journey is not only a proud moment for women’s football in India — men footballers also can take a leaf out of her book to achieve their target,” Gurpreet told AIFF.
Gurpreet joined Norway’s Stabaek in 2014 and became the first Indian to appear in the UEFA Europa League two years later. He mentioned how challenging it is to break into the starting eleven of a European club.
“From my own experience, I can say it takes a lot of hard work to prove that you are good enough to start a game for a European club. Moreover, we should always remember the amount of hard work that she has put in during the pandemic,” said Gurpreet.
“Playing in Europe will give you a sense of responsibility and confidence because you have already played at an elite stage. Staying in alien conditions will make you a better and a stronger person.”
Gurpreet believes that the 30-year-old forward’s journey would create more awareness around women’s football in the country.
“The most important thing for Indian football is a moment like this which will create more awareness around women’s football. More girls will look to play football with a purpose and a zeal to achieve something,” he said.
Rangers Women are set to face Hibernian in their next match on Sunday. Hibernian, with six points from two matches, are locked with them on the standings.
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