ISLAMABAD: Indian striker Ngangom Bala Devi, whose team is participating in the SAFF Women’s Championship here at the Jinnah Stadium, acknowledged on Monday her team is receiving great hospitality in Pakistan.
“I’m very happy, our team is enjoying excellent hospitality here and above all we are enjoying full support of Pakistani crowd… this is something amazing for us,” Bala Devi told Dawn on Monday.
The top scorer of the tournament, who started playing football in 2000, said, she was having good time in Pakistan. “I’m not feeling that we are away from our country,” she said.
Bala, who has so far scored 11 goals in three matches of the ongoing event to help India make the semi-finals, feels her team will easily defend the title.
Talking about her target in the ongoing SAFF championship, she said: “I want to score at least 16 goals in this event.”
The 25-year old, who hails from Manipur state in northeastern India, said that her country took various steps to lift women football.
“Our federation is focusing on improving football on grassroots level, we have several youth development and talent hunt programmes,” she said, adding that she spotted some improvement in Pakistan women teams too.
“Last time, some four years ago, we defeated Pakistan by around 7 to 8 goals, but now in this championship, after watching Pakistan’s matches, I saw a significant improvement in their game,” she noted.
Responding to a query about 11 Devis in the 20-member Indian squad, she said these Devis had no relation with each other, rather they all hailed from Manipur, a region known for producing brilliant women footballers.
Published in Dawn, November 18th , 2014