UWC’s significant contribution to the development of women's football in South Africa was recognised when four former students were selected yesterday into the national senior women’s team for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Attacking midfielder Leandra Smeda and striker Jermaine Seoposenwe were named in the 18-member Banyana Banyana squad, while goalkeeper Kaylin Swart and forward Thembi Kgatlana were among the four put on standby. They will still travel with the team to Rio de Janeiro in August but will not be eligible to play unless there is an injury among the 18 team members.
Mandla Gagayi, UWC’s director of Sport Administration, congratulated the footballers for their selection and said it means a great deal to the University. “They serve as indicators of our efforts towards building well-rounded students,” he said.
“Our student athletes should cherish these achievements and be grateful for the opportunities and support we continue to give them in their endeavours to excel. Representing one's country is a huge achievement that comes with huge responsibility, because the person becomes an ambassador for the University, community, family, and friends.”
Who are these ambassadors?
Smeda, who hails from Veldfrift in the West Coast, was registered for the Postgraduate Diploma in Sport, Development, and Peace in 2014 and played a key role in the success of UWC Ladies’ football club that season. She also made her breakthrough into the Banyana Banyana team in the same year in the attacking midfield position, featuring in almost every game, including participation in the prestigious African Women’s Championship (AWC) in Namibia later in that year where the Banyana team finished fourth. Smeda was honoured with the UWC Sportswoman of the Year award at the University’s annual Sports Awards in 2014.
The Mitchell’s Plain-born Seoposenwe completed her first year in BCom Accounting at UWC before she was granted a four-year scholarship to Stamford University in Alabama to play for Bulldogs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). She is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Business Studies. Nicknamed “Microphone”, the prolific striker has scored many goals for the national women’s soccer team and played for the UWC Ladies’ Football Club in 2013. That year the team won both the SAFA Cape Coca-Cola Cup and the University Sport South Africa Western Cape Women’s League, and fared well in the Sasol League and the national club championships.
Goalkeeper Swart was born in Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth and was completing a BA degree at UWC before moving to the United States to join the AIB College of Business in Des Moines on a four-year scholarship. She is completing a degree in sport and event management. Swart represented the national team at Under 17 and Under 20 before her talent was noticed by the senior national team selectors who included her in the Banyana Banyana squad which played in the 12-Nation Cyprus Women's Cup in 2013. She was also a key member of the UWC team before relocating to the USA.
Many UWC football fans would remember Kgatlana for her individual goal when UWC Ladies’ narrowly lost 2-1 to the Tshwane University of Technology in the Varsity Ladies’ Football final on home soil last year. The Johannesburg-born striker was completing a BA in tourism management at UWC last year before she took a break to focus on her demanding football career this year, as Banyana Banyana held long camps in preparation for the Olympic Games. Although she is on standby for the Rio games, at 21 years old she is touted as the future of the Banyana Banyana team.