Beyond the game: Millie Saroha, sophomore

By: 

Sports Reporter

In India, women rarely play sports and are expected to do two things—get a good education and help their families around the house.

Millie Saroha, sophomore, follows the strict guidelines for Indian women as well as playing for the Texas State golf team.

“We don’t have a lot of women golfers in India,” Millie said. “I am one of the few, and it has really help me to become better and has given me the opportunities to play golf all around the world.”

India is a family-oriented country with little emphasis on individuality.

"Since India is so family-based, it is nearly impossible to pursue your goals in life," Millie said. "But my family has really supported me on my decision to play golf.”

Gender roles make focusing on anything other than family and education challenging for women.

Unlike in the United States, the Indian government does not fund sports. Young people rely on their parents for financial support in order to play sports. 

Millie's parents knew the government would not help their daughter get into tournaments or assist in paying her dues. They stepped in to help their daughter.

“Without my parents’ support, I know that I would not be in the position to pursue golf,” Millie said. "Everything I am today is because of my parents. I give all thanks to them. I work hard with whatever they give me, and if they didn’t give me that, I wouldn’t be anywhere, so thanks to my mom and dad.”

Growing up watching her father, Yashpal, play golf sparked Millie’s interest in learning the sport at any cost.

Millie started going to the golf course at the age of six. Like any kid, she paid little to no attention to the sport. Instead, she played in the grass and chased bunnies.

Months flew by, and Millie was intrigued by how far and high the ball would go into the air.

“I remember thinking one day, ‘I want to hit the golf ball like that,’” Millie said. “‘I will make it go just as far as my daddy’s.’”

Sure enough, a few years later Millie started making the ball soar just as she seen her dad do.

“Millie watching her father got her started,” said Asha, her mother. “She furthered her interest in the game when she attended a junior camp at Delhi Golf Club.”

At the age of 11, Millie became known as a small wonder after winning the Maharashtra silver category.

The older she grew, the more Millie possessed a gift and hunger to be an exceptional golfer.

“It was very difficult for Millie to play golf in India but also very manageable,” Asha said. “We as parents did whatever it took to make sure our girl had a chance."

The more Millie grew to love golf, the more demanding it was. Her move to the United States was the next step. Millie was now thousands of miles away from her family.

“Being the only child, my parents get hard at times because I am my daddy’s girl," Millie said. “It is very hard to be away from home because I miss them dearly, but they have placed me in the position to be the best golfer I can be.”

Coming to Texas was a big change for Millie.

“When I first met Millie, she was very shy, quiet and reserved,” said Coach Mike Akers. “Now it has been a little over a year since I first met her, and she has completely opened up. She has gained confidence, humor and has completely transformed her personality.”

Support from her parents made Millie realize how much she wants to pursue professional golf.

“After I finish college, I will stay an extra year in the U.S. and try out for the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association),” Millie said. “After I try out, I want to go play in Asian and European tours.”

Millie’s main goal is to break down the walls that stand between the people of her country and their ability to play sports.

“I want to not only break the barriers for women to play golf in India but also for golf to become very serious in India while inspiring other people to pursue golf," Millie said. 

Millie has two years remaining at Texas State. Millie will return to India if she does not achieve professional status.

Until then, Millie remains set on her path. 

“I came to the U.S.A. for the opportunity to pursue my goals,” Millie said. “Therefore, I will not leave the U.S.A. until I achieve those goals.”

Follow Delisha Mims on Twitter at @_DeeJernigan