Bhuta hopes to inspire and support young Indian girls looking ahead to a career in sports
17-year-old Mia Bhuta came to limelight last year when she became the first Indian origin football player to represent the United States at the world cup. Playing in the US national team at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup was particularly special for Mia because she was playing on her dad’s home soil.
Born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Mia grew up listening to stories about India from her dad Vyom Bhuta. Born to an Indian origin father and an American mom, Mia remains extremely close to both the cultures.
Read: Mia Bhuta makes history playing for US at FIFA World Cup (October 17, 2022)
Currently settling in Stanford where Mia will begin her first year, this winter, the passionate soccer player took out some time to talk to the American Bazaar.
Her dad grew up in Rajkot, Gujarat and her grandparents still live in India. The talented soccer player has been playing since she was all of four, thanks to a healthy sports affinity that the family had. Her dad used to play tennis when he was in India and her mom was also an athlete and played soccer.
Talking about her connection to India, Mia says, “I have always been keen on discovering India and helping young Indian girls realize their dreams of choosing a career in sports. If I can be of any help or serve as an inspiration to them that’s great honor and I would love to see them and encourage them in their goals.”
Her short stay in India as part of the US national team at the FIFA-Under 17 World Cup late last year really helped her connect with many young players there and also see up close the craze for soccer and its following in India.
At the FIFA cup in Odisha she made an excellent mark and was noticed in the Indian sports circles. Like most kids from immigrant families, for Mia her father’s story as an immigrant arriving in the US as a student played a significant part in her career. It taught her that with hard work and perseverance everything is possible.
Both her dad and mom had a background in sports, but still Mia had the freedom to choose what she wanted to do. “I began playing at a local facility that teaches soccer to young kids in the US called Li’l Kickers,” she says. “Both my sister and brother also played and it started as a friendly competition between my brother and I where we would play soccer.”
Talking about how significant it was for her to play in India so early in her career, Mia says, “My dad was born in India and grew up here. He came to the US at 16 to pursue his passion – so for me to be there at 16 following my dream to be at a World Cup, it was really special to me.”
Read: Bend it Like Bhuta: Meet the First Indian American in the U.S. Team for FIFA World Cup (October 14, 2022)
The key to her success, Mia says, is that she was consistent. She kept on working towards her game. “I don’t know if there was any particular moment where anyone said that oh this is great for your game but it was those consistent hours that I guess worked.”
After the initial years at Li’l Kickers, Mia says, “I began playing for a local club in Pittsburgh. Mia graduated from high school a year early and is now beginning at Stanford where she will be studying computer science, linguistics and psychology.