BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta, GA, June 2, 2023: 16-year-old Mia Bhuta, who lives in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburg, made history by being the first Indian-American to represent the U.S. Women’s team at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022.
Mia is the daughter of Vyom Bhuta, who was born in Mumbai, and grew up in Rajkot, Gujarat, who emigrated to the U.S. when he was 16. After marriage, the family moved to Pittsburg. Though Vyom loves to play tennis, he, Mia’s mom and siblings lent their full support to Mia in playing soccer. Mia is quick to appreciate this, “I think, the support from my family, my coaches and my teammates around me have made the journey a lot easier.”
The rising soccer star Mia is a midfielder and one of the most experienced players of the USA team in this age group. She is one of the three captains for the U.S. for the tournament.
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022 took place from 11-30th Oct.2022. India was the host country. 16 teams from different countries participated. The matches were played at three host cities in 3 Indian States: (1) Bhubaneshwar, Odisha; (2) Margao, Goa and (3) New Mumbai, Maharashtra.
When Mia landed in India for the FIFA World Cup, it was like a homecoming for her. She instantly became a favorite with the media and her numerous Indian fans. She said she would feel happy if she could inspire the young girls of the host country to take up football.” I think just being here, it’s amazing. I’m so glad I can share this journey with my teammates and expose them to our culture. I want them to dream big and think that nothing is beyond reach if they worked hard. I have seen how much these girls have potential to do well.”
The teams were divided into four groups of four teams. U.S. played its first match on Oct.12 against the host country India in Bhubaneshwar, and easily won 8-0. In 61st minute, Mia’s left foot kick from quite a distance from the goal post, sent the ball over the heads of the players in her front and went into the nets. The crowd erupted into wild applause and she became a soccer sensation.U.S. drew with Brazil 1-1, defeated Monaco 4-0; but on Oct.21, in the Quarterfinal, in Navi Mumbai, it lost against Nigeria, on a penalty shootout, India (3) and Nigeria 4. Mia successfully scored her penalty but it was not enough!
Mia and her teammates have been working with Indian organizations, helping young girls in India with shoes, footballs, uniforms, and other resources etc. to help them play soccer. Mia would like to see more diverse cultures being represented. They need to be given equal access and opportunity.This would enable women’s soccer gain popularity.
Mia will be studying at Stanford. She will, hopefully continue blazing her soccer trail, inspiring and motivating many soccer players with her passion, zeal and skill, continuing with her heart-lifting soccer journey!