Manipur: Heroic homecoming for footballer Dangmei Grace at Imphal Airport
Footballer Dangmei Grace welcomed at Imphal Airport

Imphal: Scores of people, mostly from the Rongmei community dressed in their traditional attires, gathered at Imphal airport on Friday evening to welcomed Dangmei Grace, an Indian women’s international footballer from Manipur.

Organised by Rongmei Naga Students’ Organisation Manipur (RNSOM) in collaboration with RNCM and RNLPM, the Indian striker Grace was welcomed and greeted by her community and well-wishers after her stint in Uzbekistan.

A resident of Dimdailong in the Bishnupur district, Grace is one of the very few Indian women football players to play in the top division with an overseas league.

Last July, Grace signed a professional contract with Uzbekistan-based PFC Sevinch and won the Uzbekistan Women’s League in November. Grace also clinched the gold medal in the Hero Indian Women’s League with Gokulam Kerala FC in May.

While expressing gratitude for the outpouring of love from the people, Grace said, “For me, it’s very surprising because I was not expecting such a crowd and warm reception. But I am very happy that many people came to receive me.”

Talking about her experience playing in the foreign league, the Indian striker said, “For me, I have gained lots of experience because the playing style here in India and the other countries have a huge difference. So, I think I have gained a lot of experience from them.”

According to Grace, Manipur, the state where she comes from, has been dominating in sports in the country, including football and a lot more improvement will be there in the future as well.

“Many women from the state have taken up sports as their career and I think there are lots of improvements in the last two-three years. It is a proud moment for Manipur as well as for the country,” she added.

Grace started her international career in 2013 and won the South Asian Games (2016, 2019) and SAFF Women’s Championships in 2016 and 2019.

In 2019, she was also named the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) ‘Emerging Player of the Year and the same year, she won the Manipur Woman Footballer of the Year Award.

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