Skip to content

Soccer siblings to clash at Paris Olympics — her with Canada, him with New Zealand

North Delta's Manders will be on sidelines of competing women's teams July 25
Soccer family members Jasmine and Amar Mander on a pitch in Montreal during a 2021 game between the women's teams of Canada and New Zealand. Amar is a team physiotherapist for New Zealand and Jasmine is an assistant coach for Canada's team.

Siblings Jasmine and Amar Mander both plan to travel to France this summer but with different flights, lodging and jobs while in the country.

At the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics in just a few weeks, the North Delta-raised pair will be on opposite sides of the pitch when Canada faces New Zealand in the women's soccer tournament on July 25, in Group A opening games for both sides.

After the draw was held in March, they almost couldn't believe the result.

"It was a crazy coincidence," said Amar, who works as a therapist for the New Zealand national team.

"We had done some preliminary statistics around which teams we could get, based on parameters of us not being able to be in the same group as some others," explained Jasmine, an assistant coach for Canada's squad.

"It was actually very possible that we'd get New Zealand in our group, a good chance, even," she added.

"But then to see that come through, you're excited because you obviously have your sibling on the other team but then you're kind of making sure that preparation-wise, it's a team we're familiar with, we've played them twice. Bev (coach Priestman) knows them really well and yeah, it was a good draw for us. It's a familiar opponent, not an easy opponent."

Jasmine, 29, and Amar, 31, both grew up playing soccer around Delta and Surrey, and travelled different paths to the national teams to battle at Saint-Étienne, in Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

"We both still live in North Delta, went to Heath Elementary and then Seaquam (Secondary)," reported Amar. "She played Surdel (girls league), and I played North Delta."

Today, Amar coaches with Surrey FC in Newton, plays centre-mid for Coastal FC's Premier team in South Surrey and works at Sungod Sports & Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Clinic, the one in North Delta. "I did my undergrad at SFU in kinesiology and then my master's in physio at Oxford in the UK," Amar added.

In 2021 when New Zealand was looking for a team physiotherapist for games in Montreal and Ottawa, Jasmine urged her brother to take the job. Busy at Sungod, Amar declined initially, but eventually began working with the island nation's top female soccer players.

"I thought sure, it was going to be a one-off thing and I said, yeah, fine," he recalled. "So here I am, a couple of years later, I've gone to Colombia, South Korea, Japan, Los Angeles and Chicago with the team. And then I stopped for about a year because they had found a full-time therapist, who is now pregnant. It just happened that they needed someone to go to the Olympics with them. Here I go."

Also in 2021, Jasmine began work as an analyst for Canada's women's team, and has since moved into an assistant-coaching role.

"It was a great year (in 2021) and great timing, because we went to the Olympics in Tokyo and we won the gold medal," Jasmine said. "Being at my first Olympics, it was amazing. So perhaps this time, it will be different and even better. I was just really happy to be there, and now again in Paris."

Growing up, the Mander siblings both loved watching the Olympics on television.

"We'd never, ever pictured ourselves going to the Olympics, let alone lining up against each other for different soccer teams," Amar said. "Honestly, I can't even put it in words, the feeling."

The two have never faced each other on any soccer sidelines, playing or coaching, in any capacity, Jasmine noted. 

"I sure hope Canada is gonna kick some butt," she said, "but in a tournament like this, anything can happen. You could say, on paper, we are the favourites, just in terms of FIFA rankings, but anything can happen in tournament football, you never know. It's going to be a whirlwind month with pre-Olympics preparation and then the games."

The siblings' parents will be watching along with millions of fans of competing nations.

"Everyone's excited and being really supportive," Amar said. "Most excited are our mom and dad. They teased me saying they're low-key supporting Canada, because they think Canada will go further (in the tournament), but we'll see how that goes."

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
Read more