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Machingauta is a long way from home

Originally published in the September17, 2010 issue

Many college students prefer to leave the comforts of home and go off somewhere new to college. Chicago and St. Louis natives are three hours away from family and friends. Out of state students could be hundreds of miles away from their parents.

However sophomore Tapiwa Machingauta chose to go to a college 8,653 miles away.

“My hometown is Hwedza, that’s where my village is.” said Machinguata, a native of Zimbabwe. His village is nestled in-between the bigger city of Maradonea and the country’s capital, Harare.

Machingauta attended Prince Edward’s School in Maradonea.

“It’s one of the best schools in Zimbabwe,” he said. “It has a rich tradition. Coming in, I was a boy, but when I came out I was man. They teach you everything from discipline to everything on and off the court.”

Throughout his Prince Edward’s tenure, Machingauta  played soccer.

“I’ve been playing since I was probably eight,” he said. “If you go out into the streets, people are playing soccer. If you go anywhere, there are people playing soccer. It’s just crazy over there.”

While at Prince Edward’s, Machingauta became one of the top players in the region. With the school’s team, he was able to compete with the best teams in southern Africa.

“We went to one tournament in 2006 and played against teams from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa,” he said. “We were the champions of that one. In 2008, it was more challenging; it had better teams. Going into and playing in another country was a big deal.”

For Machingauta, it was a monumental achievement when he was awarded the best defender award of the tournament.

Even though it was a half a world away, America could see Machingauta for his talent.

“The funny thing is, the coach from Dartmouth came to Zimbabwe to see me, and he’s the one who told coach about me,” he said.

After Machingauta decided to go to Bradley, the anixous feeling of going halfway across the world became apparent.

“I was really nervous at first considering I have no family here,” he said. “I have to cross an ocean to get back home. Twenty-two hour flights. When I got out here the team has been amazing, my teammates were amazing. I miss home, but not as much because of those guys.”

Thanks to modern technology, communication half a world away is not as difficult as one would imagine.

“I  use  Skype a lot,” Machingauta said. “I was just talking to my dad today, actually. I probably talk to my parents every other day. I keep in touch. They like to see how I’m doing.”

During the summer, Machingauta elected to not go home, but to play in the Maine Premier League with teammate junior Bryan Gaul.

“It went really well, it was a great experience.” Machingauta said. “The players were great. It was a whole different level. I went with Bryan Gaul, so that was a cool thing. We corrected each other and showed what we needed to work on. I’d be like ‘Bryan, you’re good at this but you need to work on this.’ Sadly it ended quite early because I pulled my hamstring.”

When the soccer season ends, and fall passes into winter, don’t expect Machingauta to be sticking around in central Illinois for too long.

“I’m going home this December,” he said. “ It gets cold in Zimbabwe, but not like it does here. I was very happy to see snow at first. A few days later, the sound it makes when you’re walking on it; I couldn’t stand that and just generally being so cold.” 

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