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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Foreign soccer transfers discover triumph abroad

Mandalyn Lewallen
Texas State sophomore forward Mady Soumare (9) looks for an open pass during the game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, at Bobcat Soccer Complex.

Texas State is home to students from more than 80 nations, but its soccer team proves that it is more than just a place to reside. 

Since transferring, international soccer players have overcome cultural differences, made lasting relationships and added immense skill to the Bobcats’ roster.

Freshman midfielder Victoria Meza and sophomore forward Mady Soumare transferred from El Salvador and France, respectively. They agree that one of the most conflicting challenges they’ve faced this year has been the language barrier.

“The biggest change [was] the language,” Soumare said. “English is not my first language, and [it’s] all around me in the city and the people. I’m far from my family so it’s kind of hard.”

Junior goalkeeper and Texas native Katelyn Chrisman, who knows making the leap to another country can be a difficult process, said the Bobcats’ soccer team is welcoming to the players that make the transition.   

“We have pretty open communication about things. I’ve told [international players] if they ever need anything with school or soccer that I’d help [them] figure it out,” Chrisman said. “I think our coaching staff is very accommodating, too.”

In addition to the change in communications these players face, there are also shifts on the soccer pitch. Meza said though she has become acclimated, the atmosphere she was familiar with in El Salvador is not the same as that of Texas State.

“[In El Salvador], it’s totally professional. All the players over there play in the Mexican League,” Meza said. “People are actually playing pro and everything, so it’s pretty serious.”

Meza said when she transferred, she was pleased with Texas State’s ability on the field and did not have to change the type of player she was.

“I was really happy with the fact that over here, we play the long balls,” Meza said. “So I was like ‘Yes! I can [play] the same here.’”

Freshman defender Cauvais Deane, a transfer from Canada, agrees that Texas State soccer’s on-field adaptability aids foreign transfers in that they do not have to re-invent their style. She said no matter a player’s position, they are valued as highly as the next player.

“Being a striker is what everyone wants to do… because you score the goals and everything,” Deane said. “But they make it as important to be a defender as a striker here.”

Texas State’s international transfers have also found success interpersonally. Through their everyday practices on and off the pitch, many new friendships have blossomed, Meza said.

“It’s been like a month and I think that I’m [fitting] into the team already,” Meza said. “I’m making friendships and I’m always joking around with it.”

Soumare said Bobcat soccer provides her with a family away from home due to their regular practices, meals and overall time spent together.

While undergoing cultural changes may be difficult, Texas State strives to help its foreign players settle in by providing a warm community, Chrisman said. Evidently, this process is successful as many foreign transfers have found rapid success on the field.

While appearing in eight of Texas State’s 11 games so far, Meza has proven clinical in her passing. With three assists, she is tied with the most on the team and has also taken advantage of scoring opportunities, charting two goals this season already.

“I have really liked Victoria in the midfield,” Chrisman said. “I think she’s a solid midfielder that has definitely helped us a lot. Just her ability to hold the ball and distribute long balls is a really good aspect.”

Soumare has also found success, matching three other Bobcats with three goals on the season. She’s charted an assist, too, bringing her point total on the season to match Meza’s at seven.

“Mady’s a really good player,” Chrisman said. “She works super hard and she gives us more depth up top. I think both [Soumare and Meza] have been very good.”

Altogether, Texas State’s foreign soccer players have proven their adaptability on and off the pitch with success in social and competitive aspects. Meza, Soumare and Deane all said that though it may have taken some getting used to, their Bobcat teammates have aided them in their transition.

“I haven’t met someone who’s not nice,” Meza said. “[Texas State] tries to make people comfortable with where they are.”


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