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Mia Bhuta embraces the spotlight at U17 Women’s World Cup

Here in Pittsburgh, and quite frankly, even back in India, where the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup being held, the biggest spotlight has shone on Mt. Lebanon’s Mia Bhuta.

Bhuta has been the subject of quite a bit of interest from Indian media and fans so far in just her short time in the country of her ancestry, following her appearance in the USYNT’s first match, a decisive 8-0 win vs India, when she came on in the second half to contribute an assist and score a highlight reel goal.

After everything appeared to settle down, two hours after the completion of her first-ever World Cup match, Bhuta was one of two players selected to receive a random drug test.

Mt. Lebanon’s Mia Bhuta scores in her groundbreaking debut at Women’s U17 World Cup

It was during that time, she finally had a chance to check out her phone, and quickly learned about the buzz that had come with her groundbreaking appearance as the first player of Indian descent to represent the U.S. at a FIFA Women’s World Cup at any level.

Even senior USWNT icon Meghan Rapinoe was impressed, posting a story on Instagram about the Mt. Lebanon native.

“It was crazy,” Bhuta said on Thursday during a Zoom meet-up with the media.

“I’ve never met her, but I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s someone who not only I would aspire to want to be on the field, but off the field too.”

To say that the last 36 hours have been a whirlwind for the Pittsburgh area native, would be an understatement.

Whether she was dealing reporters in the post match interviews or meeting up on Zoom media call with media members from Pittsburgh to India, Bhuta has handled it all like a pro.

Even a couple members of the media pointed out to her how composed she was during the interviews.

The 16 year-old who graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School a year early, so she could not only make time for this incredible experience but also to enroll in Stanford early this coming January, handled all of this attention as well as she controls the ball at her feet in her holding midfield role — with complete composure.

One of three U.S. players who have been designated at team captains, Bhuta not only has embraced the spotlight, but she also is happy to wear the armband.

When asked by Pittsburgh Soccer Now about taking on this leadership role, she was equally humble, but welcoming of her role on the team and with her teammates.

“I am very proud to wear the armband, and represent the United States.  We have so many great players and we are a very close, cohesive group, and I am happy to do my part.”

Bhuta, who said she has previously visited India with her family, was very excited to have some of them in attendance.  Vyom Bhuta, Mia’s father, was born in Mumbai and emigrated to the United States at age 16 to become an exchange student in New York. When Vyom went to Mercyhurst for college he met Mia’s mom, who was from Pittsburgh. Once they got married, the family settled in Mt. Lebanon.

Much of the attention following the game was centered around her terrific goal, as she ripped a curler from distance into the top left corner.

“It was incredible,” Bhuta said, then immediately thought of her family. “It was a big moment not only for me, but for them. They are one of the main reasons I’ve been able to make it here. They’ve sacrificed so much for me to be here. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. My brother and sister have been my training partners.”

Even with her experience of having traveled to India before, nothing quite prepared her for being in the spotlight and experiencing the emotions of the first few days of her World Cup experience.

“I was prepared for and knew about the culture here,” Bhuta added.

“But not for the emotions.”


Next up, on Friday morning, the U.S. Women’s National Youth U17 team will face its biggest challenge in Group A play when they face Brazil (Fox Sports 2 / Universo, 7 a.m. ET)

Brazil edged Morocco 1-0 in its first match in India and sits in second behind the USA in Group A early on. Friday morning marks the first meeting between the USA and Brazil at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, but the teams have met in three U-20 WWCs and in some of women’s soccer’s most memorable matches at the senior level.

2022 FIFA U-17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP

GROUP A STANDINGS 

TEAM GP W L D GF GA GD PTS
USA 1 1 0 0 8 0 +8 3
BRA 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1 3
MAR 1 0 1 0 0 1 -1 0
IND 1 0 1 0 0 8 -8 0

 

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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