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Miranda Nild, living the Thai dream

Miranda Nild, known as Suchawadee Nildhamrong in Thailand, is a striker born in the USA of Thai ascendance. The 22-year-old forward will participate to the FIFA Women's World Cup for Thailand, playing against the USA in the group stage. MyCujoo met her.

Miranda Nild, known as Suchawadee Nildhamrong in Thailand, is a Thai striker raised in the USA

By Scott McIntyre
From Tokyo

It's not everyday that a young footballer born and raised in sunny California happens to be strolling through central Bangkok when a bus roars by with her picture on it.

Relive the Thailand Women's League on MyCujoo

That's exactly what happened to Miranda Nild earlier this week though as one of the rising stars of the Thailand national team was in camp preparing for the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

The 22-year-old did what most 22-year-olds would do and raced to grab a picture of the bus before it zoomed off – thankfully Bangkok traffic allows ample opportunity for that – and let out a brief scream of excitement at the unusual encounter.

The fact that women’s football is starting to slowly crack through a crowded sporting landscape is a sure sign of progress in the Southeast Asian nation and when the team heads to what will be just Thailand's second World Cup they'll be sure to be one of the more fanatically backed sides in France.

Homeland vs Raising land

For the American-born, Thai international though the opening match will have greater meaning than for most as Nild prepares to represent her father’s homeland against the nation in which she was raised as she told MyCujoo this week from the Thai capital.

"I was watching the draw live and it was such a wave of emotion when I realized that Thailand would be playing our first match against the USA and when I saw those cards being placed side-by-side I couldn’t believe it."

"It will definitely be such an emotional game for me and the coolest of my life as I get to stand on the same pitch as so many players that I looked up to when I was growing up – the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and especially Alex Morgan who went to the same college as me in California."

Whilst admitting it might be slightly awkward given she could be tempted to sing both national anthems the opportunity of a lifetime is not lost on the young star who will return briefly to America before the World Cup to complete her college graduation.

"I just want to take it all in and use this as a kind of job interview if you know what I mean, the chance for me to show what I can do at this kind of level."

Dozen of goals

Known in Thailand as Suchawadee Nildhamrong, the dangerous forward has already scored a dozen goals in her brief international career following a chance connection that lead to a rapid call-up two years ago.

"I’d always trained with a friend of my fathers who was a former Thai international – who I refer to as my uncle – and he mentioned me to the association in Thailand. Within a couple of weeks they had seen my videos and invited me into camp, it all happened very quickly."

"That was back in 2017 and it was a decision that my parents supported, I’d never really been called into any national camps in America and I knew it would be hard for me playing at smaller teams so naturally my parents were thrilled for me to represent Thailand."

With a growing women's league in Thailand – with those matches available on MyCujoo – the young forward has also spent time recently playing for powerhouse local club team Chonburi in a league that she said has massive potential.

"The fact that we have a league now is awesome and it’s really important for all of our players to have the chance to play regular football rather than just being in camp all of the time."

"Not just in Thailand but across the world you can see the positive changes that are coming for women’s soccer and although there’s still a lot to cover it’s really encouraging that the game is progressing so quickly."

Thai culture

Football though wasn’t always the first choice for Nild as a young girl with her parents – her father played American Football in his youth – encouraging her and her brother to take up as many sports as possible to help build their character.

After settling on the global game though there's been no looking back for the young forward who also had little trouble adjusting to her new international teammates given that she’d stayed in touch with Thai culture from a young age.

"My father was born in Thailand but came to America when he was ten and we had family there so I was always surrounded by Thai culture."

"There is a temple near our house that my grandmother was heavily involved in so I would often go there when I was younger and that helped me to learn the language and culture which meant that it was easier to adjust to the team in Thailand."

"The girls in the team are really welcoming and are always open to helping me with anything I need and if they weren't it would have made the transition so much harder."

After having modeled her game on Liverpool’s Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino at the behest of her college coach, Nild is now prepared to dream big as Thailand take on the might of the defending champion USA as well as Sweden and Chile, as she told mycujoo.

"This will be our second World Cup and the same as last time we have the defending champion in our group but we’re not focusing on that because our aim is to reach the next round."

"Personally, I just want to settle my nerves down and help the team to reach that goal but it will be cool for sure to look across at the American players and realize that now we are on the same stage for that opening match."

Relive the Thailand Women's League on MyCujoo