The 30-year-old vows to stay fit while in isolation to be ready when football activities resume.

Ngangom Bala Devi recently made history when she became the first Indian woman to sign a professional contract abroad after joining Scottish club Rangers. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought an untimely halt to her burgeoning footballing journey on foreign shores. With Scottish football being suspended and India closing down entry to international flights, Bala Devi remains in isolation in Scotland, away from her family in Manipur.

“So far I am doing fine in my apartment and keeping fit indoors. I interact with my friends by video calls on Zoom and WhatsApp. My family is always happy to hear from me and I speak to them everyday,” Bala Devi told The Times of India.

“I am in my own accommodation and other than a rare visit to the supermarket for groceries, I have been indoors, training by doing exercises, watching movies and looking at a lot of news in India,” she further added.

The 30-year-old is the top-scorer for the national team, registering 52 goals in 58 appearances and has picked up the AIFF Women’s Player of the Year prize twice in 2015 and 2016 for her goalscoring exploits.

Further, when footballing activities resume, it will pose a few challenges to the players as they will be expected to regain their match fitness as quickly as possible and the Rangers’ No.10 recognizes the task on their hands.

“We will need to get back to full match fitness and be ready to try to do our best (when football resumes). The outcome of this pandemic is the same for all players.”

In an instance of genuine positivity in these bleak times, the Indian women’s team moved up two places to the 55th spot in the FIFA rankings and the striker is hopeful that the team can push up even higher.

“I am happy with every improvement the team has made. But, I think we can do even better and be in the top 35-40 with a bit more hard work and more international matches.”

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which was set to be hosted by India at the end of this year has been postponed and the AIFF is working behind the scenes to finalize new dates for the competition. Providing her thoughts on the same, Bala Devi added, “There will be a lot of restructuring, but we still have plenty of time to do it. So, it should be manageable.”

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