12 years ago, while watching boys around her play football, a 5-year-old girl’s heart was captivated by the sport. That’s when Diya Singh, Class of 2019, decided to master this game, regardless of all the obstacles that she would face.
Her journey started when she came across the boys in her old school playing football. Something about that sport drew her attention towards it. Perhaps the feeling of being different from all the other girls, perhaps being the only girl to play football.
“I was basically the only girl who wanted to play football, so nobody else was willing to play with me. I’ve also, got bullied for it. I used to play with the boys, and so my friends used to get mad at me because of that,” Diya said with a downhearted voice. However, she decided to ignore these people and keep going.
Football made her “determined to prove these people wrong.” It gave her the motivation to face all of them. She liked being different.
Diya grew up in a family where playing sports are a part of everyday life. Hence, her parents supported her and gave her the courage she needed to dedicate her time to football. Although she’s tried playing many sports, football’s the one that seized her heart. She said, “it’s a team sport, and I prefer team sports than individual sports; [Working] as a team to get past something was what drew me to it.”
Even though she had to stand up for herself and face everyone around her, she believed that she would eventually find the people who would love her, and support her for who she is. She found these people when she came here in grade 7.
Before joining Woodstock, Diya remembers being “a self-taught player.” She never had a coach. “I used to see other people who were actually getting taught, and then compare myself to them. And then I would push myself down that I can do better,” she said.
Woodstock offered her a chance to be a part of an actual team for the first time, and to have a great coach who showed her what she was doing wrong. She said that he taught her what expectations to have, and how to get better with each game.
Becoming a part of a team helped her improve as a player every day. Gradually, she started participating in tournaments and ended up getting recognized internationally in 2016.
According to her, one of the best tournaments of her life was the Dana cup, in Denmark, in 2017. Her team reached the quarterfinals, playing against Mexico.
“I doubted myself at the beginning, but then I gave my 100 percent in that game, I ran like I never did before. I was very focused,” she said.
While still being a great football player, she managed to be a good friend and student as well. Diya gives the credit for this to her teachers who understood the importance and hardship of being an athlete and a student at the same time. Therefore, they helped her manage her time by being lenient until she learned to plan her time accordingly.
Football taught her many skills, but most of all, it shaped who she is as a person.
“Football made me a leader, which you can notice in [the] game. Besides many people around me have noticed that,” she said. For her, football is not only a sport. It is something that makes her feel calm and focused. It gives her freedom.
From the little 5-year-old girl, who faced many obstacles to follow her passion, to the captain of the football team, Diya Singh became an influential role model and a leader, who has managed to leave an impact on the community and on the people around her.
Tala Bagh is a staff reporter
Edited by Janvi Poddar
Photo by Amani Mohan