Born and raised in Surrey, the promising soccer player has been playing the sport since the young age of four. In her early teens, she played in a league known as HPL, High Performance League. When she went on to play on the provincial BC soccer team, the Whitecaps noticed her talent.
Meet Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s midfielder, 18-year-old Syah Mangat, who has just signed with one of the most prominent athletic and academic schools in the world, the University of Michigan. As the only South Asian female to be playing with the Whitecaps, Mangat joined the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite REX program in partnership with BC Soccer after previously playing with Surrey United in the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League. Starting this fall, Mangat will join the Michigan Wolverines, alongside a scholarship to pursue her academic studies.
Born and raised in Surrey, the promising soccer player has been playing the sport since the young age of four. In her early teens, she played in a league known as HPL, High Performance League. When she went on to play on the provincial BC soccer team, the Whitecaps noticed her talent. After having been on trial for a year and a half, she finally made the team in Grade 10. Mangat recalls, “I was on trial for quite a while, and it did get a little hard to wait. I would ask myself if I’d ever even make the team. However, I knew I needed to push myself harder and the hard work paid off.”
Mangat’s love for sports is not unprecedented in her family. Her father was a high-level athlete in high school and college; he always emphasized that he wanted his children to take on sports. Her mother comes from a soccer family herself. With both her brothers also playing soccer, Mangat comes from an athletic household and was raised with an active lifestyle. Growing up, she partook in swimming, basketball, field hockey, dance, and soccer. While her parents had encouraged her to play soccer to make friends and remain active, they had not imagined that she would make it so far. Her father, now an accountant and auditor, and her mother, a public health nurse, are Mangat’s biggest supporters, inspiring her to always do her best.
Mangat feels fortunate to have parents that push her towards her goals, but recognizes that other parents may sometimes be unsure about having their children pursue sports. To this, she responds, “I got into a great university through sports. Sports is just another pathway into school. If you involve your children in activities, they grow to become better people and develop life skills. I made more friends and connections through sports.” Mangat urges parents to give their children an opportunity to discover their love and passion, explaining that children are more likely to succeed if they are internally motivated. When she has time to herself, the soccer star winds down by spending time with her family and friends, going on hikes, and playing the piano. That said, it is a skill to manage time with her busy schedule. Having been a student athlete for so long, she has gotten better at prioritization, always putting school first. It can be tiring to come back home to homework after a long day of school and soccer, but Mangat stays on top of her classes and assignments by utilizing tools such as planners.
Mangat admits that she has had to make sacrifices when it comes to her social life. Many of her friends just go to school and do not play sports on the side, giving them more time for leisure. Regardless, Mangat has made her best friends through soccer and maintains that she simply does not know any different, making it hard for her to even see things she may have missed out on. Most of all, she has experienced significant strides of success through soccer. One of Mangat’s accomplishments include winning the provincial and national championships in 2018.
When asked how she feels about the community response on her accomplishments, Mangat shares that it is a new experience for her, “It is different for me and I am really grateful and honored. The opportunity to share my story will inspire younger athletes and South Asian girls. Through my positive story, I can be a good role model. It’s important to have fun, but also important to give a good message.”
This summer, the new Michigan Wolverine is excited to move across the border to kickstart her university career. Her nervousness is coupled with gratitude, as Mangat feels fortunate to have welcoming faces on her new soccer team, who are waiting to take her in and show her around. When things get nerve-wrecking, she is betting on simply being too busy and distracted to miss home – before she comes and visits during her breaks, of course. As for her academic program, she aspires to tread down the pre-medical path, focusing on the areas of biology, health and society, in addition to a potential minor in business.
To aspiring young athletes, Mangat’s advice is to set high goals and standards, “You will be automatically more motivated. Since I had goals to work towards, I would not want to let myself down. Set high expectations and remind yourself everyday to be the best you can be. It sounds cliché, but it makes a difference in changing your mindset. Then, you don’t even need outside motivation.” Without a doubt, Syah Mangat holds utmost potential as an athlete and as an inspiration for the larger community. Her sheer dedication, persistence, and positivity are an empowering example to shoot for the net and shoot for the stars!
Photo contributed by Syah Mangat, Darpan Magazine