Over the past few years women’s football has been on the rise in South Africa with Banyana Banyana qualifying and competing at some of the biggest tournaments.
The most recent success is qualifying for the 2019 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the country’s history, this has opened many doors for some of the players to move to clubs around the world.
Leandra Smeda is one of the players who ply their trade abroad.
FARPost caught up with her to find out more about her journey so far and what the future holds for the hard tackling midfielder who has been one of those at the centre of the rise of Banyana Banyana.
“So I started playing football at the age of 10 in my hometown Velddrif for Atlantic Rovers FC. I Participated in school sports over the years and after matric I left to go study at Cape Peninsula University of Techology (CPUT), but I only started playing for CPUT in my second year of studying.
“In my first year I played for the University of Western Cape (UWC) in the league and then second year I started playing USSA sports. At the 2009 USSA Club Championships in Maftown I was spotted by the national team coach,” said Smeda.
“In 2010 I got my first call up to the national team and have been with the national team since then. I got my first professional contract in 2018 with Lithuanian giants Gintra Universitetas and in 2019 I signed with Swedish club named Vittsjö GIK and made history with the club after winning a medal for the first time in the club’s existence. We finished the season in third place and it was the best season,” she continued.
Smeda admits that the last few months have been an uphill battle with injuries and the Corona Virus situation facing the world, but she feels her recent move to Portuguese top-flight side Famalicao is a positive.
“My time abroad has been good, but tough as well especially with the Pandemic and all, but we live and we learn and the quicker you adapt the better things get you know. I’ve since left the Swedish outfit and I’m now in Portugal with Famalicao.”
Every footballer has a player they idolize and the anchor feels it was a dream come through to play against her idol at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“My career highlight so far has to be the 2016 Rio Olympics when I got to play against my favourite female Football player, Marta da Silva from The Brazilian national team and my low has been I think having to deal with injuries I sustained in 2019 which was the World Cup year.”
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By Prince Sobayeni