The two players have been stalwarts of football in the country.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has nominated Indian national team players Sandesh Jhingan and N Bala Devi for the prestigious Arjuna Award. Apparently, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had issued a directive to sporting bodies to send their suggestions regarding the individuals who could be conferred with this honour.
The AIFF did not break much sweat whilst deciding upon their choices. “We have decided to send the names of Sandesh and Bala Devi for the Arjuna Award keeping their consistent showings. So, it’s one male and one female,” the federation’s general secretary Kushal Das remarked.
Jhingan made his international debut in 2015 and since then has progressed to become one of the mainstays in the senior team. He has made 21 appearances for India and scored four goals. Moreover, the towering defender has been a part of the Kerala Blasters ever since the inception of the Indian Super League. He is the most capped player in the franchise’s history.
He was a vital part of the team in the AFC Asian Cup in early 2019 and the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in which India secured a historic draw against Qatar away from home. However, the centre-back missed the 2019-20 ISL season due to a knee injury for which he underwent a subsequent operation and is working currently for returning back to the field now.
On the other hand, N Bala Devi created a history in January this year when she signed an 18-month-contract with the Scottish club Rangers W.F.C. The 30-year-old became the first Indian woman footballer to play outside the country on a professional basis. Both of these individuals have captained their respective teams on the international stage on multiple occasions.
Bala Devi’s move to Scotland is arguably one of the landmark moments for Indian football in the recent history. Her inspiring story could propel numerous girls to take up the sport and harbor aspirations of representing the country at a formidable stage in the future. Jhingan has made rapid strides in his relatively short career so far. At 26 years of age, he has a considerable period of time left in his career to progress furthermore and register his name amongst the best footballers to have emerged from the country.