Leandra Smeda

Footballer, Banyana Banyana

Like so many of her peers, 25-year-old Banyana Banyana striker Leandra Smeda enjoyed playing different sports while growing up. From netball and cricket, to finally discovering her passion for football, Smeda has been committed to the beautiful game ever since she first started competing in primary school.

Such has been her rise that she went from going for trials at her high school to being selected to the national team while at university. The food technology student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is certainly grateful for the opportunities she has received.

“While being a female footballer is quite challenging in terms of fighting for sponsorship and exposure, the sport has provided me with so much. All of us are focused on doing well for the national side and qualifying for the Women’s World Cup next year,” says Smeda.

While playing at the World Cup is one of her career dreams, she also wants to start playing the sport professionally and hopefully play in Europe as well.

“It is difficult to balance studies, work and training with the travel and match commitments of Banyana Banyana, but it really is great to be involved with the team. Girls need to be able to follow their dreams irrespective of what they are.”

She believes that staying focused on what you want to accomplish in life and having the skills and qualifications to fall back on once you are no longer competing in a sport, are essential.

“Hard work, commitment, determination and having friends and family that support you are essential parts of the road to success.” — Iwan Pienaar