In a historic move for Indian football, Scottish club Rangers FC announced on Wednesday the signing of striker Bala Devi from Manipur Police Sports Club on a 18-month contract following a successful trial that the player underwent in November last year.

The move is a big step in Devi’s career, who is currently the top scorer for the Indian national women’s team and also the leading goalscorer in South Asia. The 29-year-old, who has also captained India in the past, has scored 52 goals from 58 games since 2010.

She becomes the first Indian woman to become a professional footballer and also Rangers’ first Asian international footballer, the Scottish club said in a statement.

“To play my football in Europe with one of the biggest clubs in the world is something I could never have dreamed of,” Devi said in a statement.

She added, “I hope my move to Rangers serves as an example to all the women footballers back home in India who dream of taking up the sport professionally. I’m looking forward to making the most of the top-class facilities and coaching.”

Devi has also excelled at club level, with a domestic record of over 100 goals. She has been the top scorer in the Indian Women’s League for the past two seasons and has also been named as All India Football Federation Women’s Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.

Bala’s arrival in Glasgow has been possible thanks to the network that has been provided through the club’s partnership with Bengaluru FC that was announced in September 2019.

Mandar Tamhane, CEO of Bengaluru FC said: “We are delighted at Bala securing what is a historic move to Rangers Football Club. Once we knew that Bala had done more than enough to impress the coaching staff at the club during her trial stint in November, we were determined to help to make the move happen in any way that we could.

He added, “Bala’s signing with Rangers sets a very encouraging precedent for women footballers from India.”