Who is Dangmei Grace? The third Indian woman to sign for an overseas club!

Dangmei Grace

Dangmei Grace created waves in the Indian football circuit when Gokulam Kerala revealed that the forward has signed a professional contract with Uzbekistan-based FC Nasaf. Indian fans, especially that of ATK Mohun Bagan, are well acquainted with Nasaf, as they crossed each other's path in the AFC Cup inter-zonal semifinals.

Grace becomes the fifth woman after Oinam Bembem Devi, Bala Devi, Dalima Chhibber and Aditi Chauhan to sign a professional contract with an overseas outfit. She will now ply her trade in the Uzbekistan Women's Super League.

How did Dangmei Grace start playing football?

At school, football was just another sport for Grace. She used to study in a catholic institution in her native district in Bishnupur, Manipur. During the annual Jesuit sports day, one of her friends casually asked if she is interested in participating in football. 

"I never thought I would play football professionally," recounted Grace to Goal earlier. 

After getting permission from her parents, she travelled to Kohima to play that match which she considers as the 'turning point' of her life. In those 90 minutes, she struck a chord with the sport which only grew stronger with time. Without attending football training sessions, her day would remain incomplete. Hence after school, she would run 2.5 km to the field to enjoy the best part of her day. 

Her rise through the ranks was swift. In 2010, she got selected for Manipur U14 and within three years she got the national team call-up. And she credits the current assistant coach of the Indian national team Chaoba Devi for playing an important role in her formative years. 

"I first met Chaoba ma’am (Chaoba Devi) in 2011 at the U16 nationals. She was the coach of the Manipur team. I am crazy about her teaching style, and this helped me make up my mind and join her club (Kryphsa FC). She has helped me in many ways, both on and off the field. To me, she is both my mother and father. Whatever I am, is because of her, and without her, it would have been impossible for me to reach this top level. I am lucky enough to get her as our coach," she stated. 

Which clubs have Dangmei Grace played for?

Grace played the inaugural edition of the Indian Women's League (IWL) for Krypsha. After spending a couple of seasons there she moved to Sethu FC in 2019 and with this side, she won her first IWL title.

After several eye-catching performances for Sethu, she joined Gokulam Kerala in 2021. With the Malabarian outfit, she played in the 2021 AFC Women's Club Championship and her performance against FC Bunyodkor was lauded by the experts. She won her second IWL title with Gokulam in 2022.

"She was outstanding, playing every minute of the IWL. Her versatility and flexibility make Grace a coach’s favourite,” said GKFC coach Anthony Andrews to Hindustan Times.

“I used her as a No 8, No 10 and sometimes No 9 when we played two attackers. She can also play No 7 or No 11. Not just that, she has the ability to take everyone together as we saw in the AFC Women’s Club Championship. I am sure she will make us proud,” he added.

To play in Europe is her ultimate dream

For Grace, FC Nasaf is the stepping stone to achieving a greater dream of playing in Europe. She idolises legendary boxer Mary Kom and is relentless in her pursuit of perfection.

"To be a great player, I need to prove myself every time I play, whether in practice or in matches. I know I have to give my 100 per cent. My idol is Mary Kom. Her life story inspires me to push forward. 

"For me, pushing myself with positive thoughts plays a very important role. As a player, there are a lot of ups and downs in life, and we have to face it, whatever the circumstances. At the same time, we need to enjoy every moment of life. My goal is to become a great player for our nation, to play in Europe, and be a role model for youngsters."

The 26-year-old is at the sweet spot of her career and this move to Nasaf will only help her grow as a player and realise her dream of playing for a European outfit.

How has Dangmei Grace performed in IWL?

Season(s)

Goals

4

20

How has Dangmei Grace performed for India?

Dangmei Grace has scored 20 goals for India in her international career.

How many titles have Dangmei Grace won in her career?

International Career

Competition

Year

SAFF Women's Championship

2016, 2019

South Asian Games

2016, 2019

Club Career

Competition

Year

Indian Women's League

2018-19, 2021-22

AFC Women's Club Championship

Bronze

Individual Award

Honour

Year

AIFF Emerging Player of the Year

2018-19