Like many of his Snider High School teammates, Pau Mang can’t get enough soccer.
"Playing for my high school team, gives me pride for my school," said Mang.
However, Mang’s journey to playing varsity has been a lot different than most high school soccer stars.
"It’s a blessing from god I always say," said Mang. "Over there we don’t even have cleats, but here we have cleats and everything you need for soccer."
Mang spent most of his early childhood in Burma – now known as Myanmar – before his family decided to trade an uncertain life in their homeland for a better one in the United States.
"Over there we needed shelter and everything that we don’t have here," said Mang. "America it gave my family a chance to have an education for me and my brothers and siblings."
While he struggled to learn English at first, the game of soccer helped him acclimate to a new culture.
"I met new friends through it," said Mang. "It made the United States feel more like a home to me."
Mang also felt more at home, because he wasn’t the only one making the journey.
All in all Snider has 13 players from Burma on their roster this year and many of them have similar stories of why their families moved to the United States.
"My parents thought it was better for us to come here, get our educations and do what we want to," said Pau Lian.
Much like Mang, many of these refugees have also found solace in soccer.
"It’s fun," said Pau Khaul. "You can make friends and it’s good exercise."
While many of these kids are still adapting to life in the United States, they’re also teaching their teammates and coaches about a culture they knew very little about before this season.
"Just them teaching different parts of their language is pretty funny," said Ross Graber. "They have such a unique personality that it’s just cool to be around them."
As the year has gone on, both the kids who were born in Burma and those from United States have started to bond with one another…
"It just does not matter what your ethnic background is, what you’re culture is, soccer is all the same," said head coach Jon Rhinehart. "If you have a love for soccer it’s going to bring you together from all different parts of the world."
Which in turn has helped the Snider Soccer team start to click at the right time.
"We just know we’re players from the same team and we can be family," said Hae Say.
With the playoffs coming up in a matter of weeks, regardless of where these kids grew up. they all share one goal; helping snider win their first sectional title in over eight years.
"We don’t speak the same language. We are different, but we have teamwork," said Khaul. "We win together, we lose together. We are sad together and we’re happy together."
Snider plans to celebrate senior night Wednesday against Dwenger.