Arjuna awardee Gurpreet Singh Sandhu feels Bala Devi’s “path-breaking” journey can inspire not only the women footballers but also their men counterparts in the country as well.Also Read - We Were Guilty of Not Winning The Match: Igor Stimac After Draw vs Bangladesh

“It (Bala’s maiden start for Rangers Women FC) is a proud moment for the country. She is a true example of hard work and dedication. Her path-breaking journey is not only a proud moment for women’s football in India — men footballers also can take a leaf out of her book to achieve their target,” quoted Gurpreet as saying after Bala made her first start for Rangers against Spartans in Scottish Women’s Premier League on Sunday. Also Read - SAFF Championships 2021: 'It's Difficult to Replace a Leader Like Him', Igor Stimac on Sandesh Jhingan's Absence Ahead of India's Opener Against Bangladesh

Bala joined Rangers Women FC in January this year before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Although she had already made appearances in friendly games earlier, the elusive league start came against their narrow victory against Spartans. Rangers won the match 1-0 to take their tally to a maximum of six points from two outings so far. Also Read - 'Stop Tagging Me': Footballer Amrinder Singh Tweets Appeal After Being Confused For Ex-Punjab CM

Gurpreet, the only Indian footballer to have played in the Europa League so far, joined Stabaek — a Norwegian top division club — in 2014 and two years later, he appeared in a Europa League qualifier match on June 30, 2016.

In hindsight, Gurpreet feels Bala’s exemplary journey would create more “awareness” around women’s football in India and it will “inspire more girls to play the Beautiful Game with a target to achieve”.

“The most important thing for Indian football is a moment like this will create more awareness around women’s football. More girls will look to play football with a purpose and zeal to achieve something. Bala’s journey should bring lights to these aspects,” Gurpreet said.