After Bembem Devi became the first woman footballer in the country to be awarded the Padma Shri, she has dedicated the award to women’s football in the country. She in fact stated that the award will inspire several other girls as well as their parents to look at women’s football as a rewarding professional career.
The former Indian skipper is undoubtedly one of the lone flag-bearers of Indian football for over two decades. She had previously bagged the Arjuna award in 2017.
“This is a recognition to women’s football in India. This is an eye-opener to all who believe you can’t go places playing women’s football in India. I hope this will inspire all the girls and their parents to believe the ‘beautiful game’ can make you reach higher echelons,” the 39-year-old told All India Football Federation (AIFF) as quoted by IANS.
“This is the year of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2020. This Padma Shri award is for the next generation of girls who will play, or take up the sport some years later,” she added.
When quizzed if the recognition will change her as a human being, she replied: “Not at all. Professionally, however, it feels nice when your contribution gets recognised. I need to thank the All India Football Federation for their support and push.”
“I have been associated with the U-15 and U-16 National teams as an Assistant Coach and was also one of the Coaches for the U-17 Women’s tournament in Kalyani,” she added.