The first time Edwin Moalosi played soccer in USF’s Corbett Soccer Stadium, he broke his tibia.
“I just have to admit that my career is over,” he remembered thinking to himself.
It was difficult for USF coach George Kiefer to understand why Moalosi, a redshirt junior forward who had been playing soccer since the age of three, would doubt the future of his career.
“It was almost naive of me,” Kiefer said. “I didn’t think of that as an option. But when you step back and hear his side of it, you understand that it’s been Eddie’s experience that players don’t make it back from the injury.”
In Botswana, Moalosi’s native country, a broken bone can end a player’s career, due to a lack of medical facilities and financing.
Still new to American technology and culture after moving to Lincoln, Ill. in 2010, Moalosi slipped into a sad state of mind, not being able to play the game that brought him to America, the game that afforded him a college education and the game that he has dedicated his life to.
“I was alone in my room, asking myself, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of my career?’,” he said.
Doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to play for nine weeks.
Coaches told him players have made it back from more severe injuries, but Moalosi was convinced they were just saying things to make him feel better.
That was the case for months as Moalosi dealt with pain while walking at first.
Then he began to jog, still with pain.
Then he played soccer for the first time since breaking his tibia before the 2012 season.
Moalosi, who received a medical redshirt for 2012, is now pain-free and scored the only goal, his first career regular season goal, in USF’s win against Stetson on Monday, after a two-goal effort in an Aug. 24 exhibition win against Tampa.
“Last spring I was limping while I played,” he said. “Then in the summer, I only felt pain after I played. People still told me I was limping and I hated to hear that. I just kept pushing myself because I can’t live without the sport.”
And the Bulls struggled to live in national prominence without Moalosi, as they dropped from a 13-4-4 record and an Elite Eight appearance in 2011 (with 16 goal-scorer Dom Dwyer) to an 8-6-5 record in 2012.
“To lose a player like Dom Dwyer (to Major League Soccer) and bring in Moalosi to replace him, then all of the sudden we lose Moalosi to the injury — it almost looks like we didn’t even try to replace Dwyer,” Kiefer said. “We definitely missed Moalosi. Every day.”
Moalosi said it was “weird” how he even ended up at USF.
He was discovered by USF coaches while they scouted Stiven Salinas, a senior forward for USF and teammate of Moalosi’s at Lincoln Junior College.
“(Assistant) Coach (Bryheem) Hancock was telling me that Eddie’s a kid we had to have, a no-brainer. And he was right on the money,” Kiefer said.
Moalosi scored 21 goals at Lincoln before accepting a scholarship to USF.
Life in Lincoln, Ill as a college student wasn’t exactly how Moalosi pictured America to be.
“The way the media builds it up, coming to America, you think you’re going to see money
everyday — money on the floor or something like that, that you’re going to be happy everyday and everything outside of soccer will come easy,” Moalosi said. “But I figured out that people work hard here and I like it because I’ve always worked hard.”
Not only did he experience a bit of shock with American economics, but he said he also experienced a confused bout of culture shock.
“When I came to America, I saw New York City first and I was proud of myself just to be there. It was amazing,” he said. “Then I went to Lincoln and I thought, ‘Is this America?’ It was cornfields everywhere.“
But Moalosi said that he enjoys America and that he thanks God every day for the opportunity he has been given.
There are a lot of soccer
players in Botswana that don’t have the same opportunity, some of them possibly better players than he is, he said.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that could allow me to go to school and eat food on a daily basis,” he said. “Looking at my country as a whole, it’s very difficult for so many people.”
Which is why Moalosi dreams of going back to Botswana one day with a degree in communications to help young soccer
players reach their dreams.
“I’ve seen a lot of talent where I come from who need people to take them places,” he said, “Many of them don’t pursue it because they believe that they don’t have a chance. I want to help them chase their dreams.”
But first, he hopes to play12