Kolkata: The ‘Durga of Indian Football,’ Oinam Bembem Devi became the first Indian woman footballer, and the seventh overall to receive the prestigious Padma Shree Award.
She received the award from President of India Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Monday (Nov 8).
Forty-one-year-old Bembem Devi is currently involved in spreading awareness about Women’s football in India.
All India Football Federation president Praful Patel said, “Congratulations! It’s an extremely proud moment for Indian Football.
Bembem Devi has been a role model for Indian Football and won so many laurels for India over the years. I hope more girls draw inspiration from her and take Indian Women’s Football to greater heights.”
AIFF general secretary, said, “Bembem is a living legend and has been the flagbearer of Indian Women’s football over the years. 2022 is the year of Women’s Football in India as we are hosting the AFC Women’sAsian Cup India 2022, and then the FIFA U17 FIFA World Cup India 2022.
I am confident this Award will provide the necessary fillip to inspire the next generation, and generate interest among all stakeholders. Congratulations!”Mr Das also made a mention of Bembem’s contribution to the sport as a couch after hanging her boots. “Post-retirement Bembem has been transferring her knowledge as a coach, having been a part of Indian national age-group teams, and also at the club level. I wish her all the best for her professional and personal life.”
In the process, Bembem joins the elite club of Late Gostho Paul, LateSailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, PK Banerjee, Bhaichung Bhutia and current Indian Men’s National Team captain Sunil Chhetri as Indian Footballerswho won the prestigious Padma Shree Award.