Sriram Chidambaram traveled to the United State from India to continue his education and playing soccer at Webster University.
Leaving behind his family, friends and his home for almost 12 years, college athlete Sriram Chidambaram flew 8,575 miles to Webster University to play soccer and get an education in America.
Chidambaram was born near the San Francisco Bay area. After first grade, Chidambaram and his family moved back to Bangalore, India because his parents wanted him and his sister to grow up there.
Chidambaram started playing soccer when he was 5 years old. After taking a little break, he started to play again in the third grade. In the seventh grade, he joined the Football Academy of Bangalore.
“In India, there are no college sports and I really wanted to play soccer in college, so I was always looking to come [to America],” Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram made many efforts to play college soccer. He started an online profile with Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) and emailed over a hundred coaches.
With only five replies, Chidambaram made the decision to play at Webster. He made this decision partially for Webster University’s exercise science department.
“I want to do something in the sports field and get a graduate degree in either athletic training or kinesiology,” Chidambaram said. “As long as I work in the sports field, I will be happy.”
Men’s soccer head coach Mike Siener was intrigued when he first saw Chidambaram’s recruiting profile. However, his concern was that Chidambaram was not a U.S. citizen and he might not qualify for financial aid.
After an email and a phone call, however, Siener found out Chidambaram was a U.S. citizen.
“Getting international students to come to Webster to play sports is generally very difficult,” Siener said. “[However], Sriram is a bright young man with a lot of potential as a soccer player and student. I look forward to watching him grow as a student and a keeper the next four years.”
Chidambaram grew up in a less traditional, more progressive part of India where English was the primary language. People also loved to watch American sports, and it was not unusual to go to college in America. According to Chidambaram, out of his high school class of 25 people, about 10 or 15 went to college in America.
After he arrived, Chidambaram noticed more differences between American and Indian soccer than he did culturally.
“Everyone seems to be much more athletic, stronger and faster [in America]. In club soccer in India, there are usually four or five really good soccer players, and the rest of the team is not as good, so it is harder for us to keep the ball and progress,” Chidambaram said. “In America, or at least at Webster, everyone is at a high level and is fierce [about the sport] and can keep the ball moving.”
After college, Chidambaram does not know exactly what will happen but he hopes to stay here for at least a couple years.