Indian football: Bala Devi named AIFF women’s footballer of the year

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Bala Devi has been awarded the AIFF Women’s Footballer of the Year for 2020-21. Meanwhile, Manisha has been named the AIFF Women’s Emerging Footballer of the Year for 2020-21.

Bala Devi expressed her happiness, “I’m so happy to have won this award. A big thank you to the AIFF and all the fans for their support. I’d also like to thank my coaches, both at my club in Rangers, and in the national team; also all the coaches that I’ve played under in the past. A big thank you also to my family and all my teammates for all the support. I arrived in Scotland last year, just before the global lockdown had started, and acclimatizing to any new place in such conditions has been extremely difficult. But with their help, I have been able to focus on the things that are most important, and keep myself in top shape, both mentally and physically.”

This is the mercurial forward’s third time winning this prestigious accolade, having won it two years in a row in 2014 and 2015. Bala, who currently plays for Rangers Women’s FC in Scotland, made her debut in February of last year and made history when she scored the team’s first competitive goal in December. She is still the first Indian woman to secure a professional football deal in Europe.

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Manisha has received the accolade for the first time. She said, “thank you AIFF for choosing me for the emerging player of the year award. This award motivates me to push further to work harder for my team and achieve our goals. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff of the national team who taught me and made me capable enough for this award. I would further extend my gratitude to my teammates without whom the award couldn’t have been possible. My family, my coaches, teachers. A big thank you to all.”

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