Cabrini men’s soccer journey in South Africa


By Paige Bowman
March 25, 2023

Men's soccer prepares for their game. Photo courtesy of @cabrinimsoccer.
Men's soccer prepares for their game. Photo courtesy of @cabrinimsoccer.

Cabrini men’s soccer had the spring break of a lifetime, when the team traveled to Capetown, South Africa for their international trip. The team takes an international trip every four years so that each player gets to go at least once during their time at Cabrini. With COVID-19 restrictions finally in the rearview and travel returning to normal, the long-awaited trip finally happened.  

Bringing a team together 

The team learning to surf. Photo from @cabrinimsoccer.

The trip consisted of surfing, playing games against local competition, exploring, and most importantly, giving back. The whole experience was hosted by Zag Sports, a company that sends teams on international tours focused on team bonding and mission work.  

Nick LoBiondo, junior forward and accounting major, said, “I think we all enjoyed the week of hanging out and experiencing the next things together as a team. We are already a very close team, but obviously, we have never had the opportunity to be with each other from morning to night for a week straight.” 

One of their days in Capetown consisted of surfing. The team took beginner lessons in False Bay. False Bay is a historically great spot to hit the waves.  

Matthew Kekatos, senior midfielder and computer science major, said, “My favorite part of the trip was going to False Bay and surfing. It was a really cool cove and had a lot of good waves.”  

Sightseeing history  

During their time in Capetown, men’s soccer took advantage of the historic significance of the location. The team took a ferry ride to Robben Island, the location of the prison where African National Congress leader and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years. They visited the prison and learned about Mandela’s significance in South Africa’s history.  

Men’s soccer also had the opportunity to climb the 3,500-foot Table Mountain, which is now considered one of the seven new wonders of nature by The Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation in 2011. Table Mountain offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Cape Peninsula.  

More than just a vacation

Working with the Anna Foundation. Photo from @cabrinimsoccer.

This wasn’t just a typical spring break trip, it was even more than just sightseeing in Capetown. The team gave back to the South African community while there.  

Toward the end of their trip, they spent a morning working with Leipzig Primary School in the Nuy Valley. There they worked with the Anna Foundation after-school group to teach sports and play games with South African children.  

“My favorite part of the trip was definitely the soccer clinic that we did with the Anna Foundation. Seeing how happy the kids were to see us definitely put a smile on our whole team’s faces. I think most of the team would agree that this event was the most fun experience that we had on the trip,” LoBiondo said. 

Embracing a culture 

While in Capetown, the team was taught the term Ubuntu. A Zulu and Xhola word meaning “humanity to others”, but it is also translated to “I am because we are.” However, Ubuntu isn’t just a saying, it’s a way of life. The team embodied Ubuntu while there by volunteering and making difference during their short adventure in South Africa.

“I personally have a very different view of the world after this trip. Being in South Africa for a week showed me how lucky I am for some of the things I have and how I need to not take what I have for granted. We did events where kids didn’t even have shoes, but they always had a smile on their faces. It was really just an eye-opening experience for all of us,” LoBiondo said.

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Paige Bowman

My name is Paige Bowman. I am a junior digital communication major, minoring in marketing. I’m from Watsontown, located in rural central Pennsylvania. At Cabrini, I have played on the women’s soccer team for all three of my years. I have been playing soccer since I was four years old and can’t remember a time before it. In my free time, I am an avid hiker, runner, and kayaker. I take my dog, Clementine, with me on all my adventures. She is a rescue from South Carolina who shares the same interests as me. Some of my other passions include painting and art of any kind. I help create graphics and game day edits for my soccer team. During the school year, I live off campus in the nearby town of Conshohocken. When I’m not at school, I love to visit my grandma Rita and play card games with her. To this day she has yet to beat me in a game of Rummy.

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