Indian women's football team forward Bala Devi returned to action in Scotland, coming on a as a second-half substitute in Rangers FC's 5-1 drubbing of Hearts Women FC in the Scottish top-flight.
The 30-year-old Manipuri, who opted to stay back in Glasgow during the global lockdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, got back into action with the Scottish Women's Premier League resuming on Sunday. Bala became Rangers' first Asian international player when she joined the club on an 18-month deal in January this year, following a successful trial with the club last November.
"It was really good to be back on the football pitch once again. Being away from the pitch for so many months is not a good feeling," Bala was quoted as saying by the-aiff.com. "But all those months of hard work paid off, and we have now started off with a win, but this is only the start of a long season ahead."
Bala had been training for the Rangers for around two months ahead of her first post-pandemic game. "I have been training with the team for about a couple of months now, and hopefully we will be physically ready to go once the league starts," Bala said.
"Of course, our team gave us our fitness programmes, which was optional for us to follow when the pandemic struck. But I made it a point to follow the training modules given to me," she added.
"The workouts I could do at home, I did indoors. I found a park near my home here in Glasgow, and did most of my training there, when it was safe to go out. Since there was a lot of open space I was also able to do some running, and that felt good."
In fact, Bala doubled up her training efforts by joining her teammates from the Indian women's team to train together online.
However, it has not always been easy at her new home abroad.
"The first month I was feeling quite lonely because all the other players went home as they were from nearby areas -- or at least from somewhere in the UK or the neighbouring countries. It was just a few others and myself that actually stayed back," said Bala.
"But I kept in touch with everyone and that helped. The coaches also took good care of me. They even took me out shopping once the lockdown was over."
- Bala Devi (@BalaDevi_10) October 18, 2020
The India striker feels the months she spent in self-isolation gave her a new perspective on how to do things.
"That time really taught me how we should be ready for different situations in life. We never know what may happen.
"A few years back, I would have laughed if anyone had told me that all major global activities would come to a standstill for a few months. But that is what happened," she said.