Students journey from afar to play soccer at Northeast

Teresa Flores

Editor-in-Chief

Amid a team of Texan girls stand two international players Chloe Copsey, from England, and Makomborero “Mako” Tembo, from Zimbabwe. Brought to Northeast Texas Community College to play for the women’s soccer team, both players take a huge step out of their comfort zones in search of experience and education both on and off the soccer field.

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Center midfielder Chloe Copsey practices drills during an afternoon practice. She comes to Northeast from London, England and said she hopes to learn all she can both on and off the field.

Copsey comes to Northeast from a country where soccer is a more dominant sport than in the United States. For nearly 10 years, she played football at the encouragement and influence of her granddad and father. “I think it was my granddad that introduced me to football,” she said. “Him and my dad kind of spoke, and my dad pushed me to join a team.”

The center midfielder said there wasn’t anything she dislike about soccer. “Everything really made me want to keep playing like having teammates behind you, and it takes the pressure off of school work,” she said. “It kind of gets rid of all your tension when you play and when you train as well.”

Back in England, Copsey was with an agency that promotes her to different schools. She said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Ian McGimsey contacted her and talked to her about the program, and said she found it really appealing. “I found Chloe on a recruiting website through a company,” McGimsey said. “I kept talking to her over the summer and convinced her that Mount Pleasant is the place to be.”

Copsey said she’s adjusting to the area and even mentioned an interesting culture shock. “The difference in words like band aids. We call them plasters back home,” she said. “So every time I say, ‘Can I have a plaster?’ everybody is like what?” This is Copsey’s first time in the United States, and she said it was a little difficult to leave home. “I found it hard leaving my family, but we FaceTime everyday and stay in contact,” she said. “They’re always checking up on me. My family is really supportive. They knew I wanted to play football and coming over here would give me the best chance at a future and also getting an education, which is one of the most important things.”

The London native said she is looking forward to achieving academic and athletic goals during her time here at Northeast. “I hope to gain an associate degree in business administration, and also pick up loads of things about soccer from Ian because I know that he is an experienced player on and off the field,” she said. “I just want to learn all I can.”

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Mako Tembo defends the ball against a Brookhaven player. Tempo, from Zimbabwe, said she would like to learn more than just soccer knowledge, but also gain an education.

Unlike Copsey, Tembo wasn’t influenced by a male figure in her life, but rather her mother. “I used to watch soccer a lot with my mother. She loved it. I had brothers so we started playing, too,” she said. “I just decided to take up the sport, but I never thought that it would take me this far.”

The feeling that Tembo said she feels while playing soccer helped keep the sport in her life. “I really enjoy playing,” Tembo said. “When I am on the field, I feel free. I just love the feeling of being me and working together with other people toward a specific goal.”

Tembo’s road to Northeast wasn’t too easy. “My parent’s were a bit skeptical at first. Being African, parents aren’t really into sports. They feel like if you’re really good at sports than you aren’t strong academically,” Tembo said. “It took some convincing to get my dad to allow me to come here. Coach Ian even had to email my dad directly so that they could see that I would be in good hands. It was a bit of a struggle, but I am glad I’m here.”

Despite any minor bumps that occurred, Tembo said she is ready and hopeful for what Northeast can provide for her. “I hope to gain experience and my associate degree in biomedical science,” she said. “I’ve always had a passion for medicine, and I am hoping that it’ll give me the bridge into medical school.”

Both players agree that it is still too early in the season to know exactly what they each bring to the team. “We have to wait and see how we develop,” Copsey said. “It’s hard to gel with a new team, but we are doing well so far. I think we are all slowly kind of getting together, and we’ll be a good squad especially for this season.”

Coach McGimsey, on the other hand, said the ladies’ heritage adds another dimension to the team. “I think Chloe brings to the team a different culture and a way of playing the game that is good for the American players to see and adjust to,” the coach said. “As for Mako, I think she brings a lot of speed and soccer IQ. She also adds to the diversity of the team and the other players knowing that there is more to the world than just Texas.”

As the Lady Eagles head into the season, both ladies said they look forward to playing the game they love. Just like any player on a team, both international players would like to end their season in a similar fashion. Tembo said, “We want to make it to the nationals.”