Leaner, a seasoned DStv Premiership player, was one of Sekhukhune United's latest additions this season after signing a three-year deal from Maritzburg United. The 25-year-old is a product of Varsity Football, having played for UWC and the Ajax Cape Town Youth Academy.
"I've been watching UWC games, and the player who impresses me the most is Riyaaz Koopstadt [also a Ajax academy graduate] because he is very effective going forward with the ball," said Leaner, who graduated with a degree in education in 2020.
"Most players can make it as professionals if they put in the required work and by being disciplined on and off the field. UWC is capable of producing PSL players. Look at me; I'm an example of someone who played Varsity Football before and made it as a professional, and more players are professional level and have contracts who also played at UWC."
Leaner, who was nicknamed “Pie” during his days on campus, is an excellent example of a Varsity Football product who made it to the professional level. He played for Ajax Cape Town/Cape Town Spurs in the National First Division before joining Maritzburg United in 2021.
The Cape-born has thrown his advice to the UWC players. "Players have to keep working hard and trust the process and, most importantly, use Varsity Football as a platform to showcase their talent," he said. "UWC has excellent facilities for any athlete and all the resources to produce top athletes.
"The one thing I can say is that they (UWC) have to invest in a more competitive league in Cape Town so players can play more at a higher level," he continued, adding that as a goalkeeper, he has also been watching how UWC number one goalkeeper Leathan Croats plays and believes he has potential.
"Leathan needs to stay grounded and just keep working hard and to use Varsity Football as a platform to showcase his talent," he adds. "I worked with him before; he had the quality to make it as a professional. Scouts should look more into Varsity Football because much young talent could make it into the PSL if given the opportunity."
UWC is sitting third in this year's Varsity Football competition, and good results from their last two games will ensure they reach the semi-finals. They are traveling to the fourth-placed North-West University on Thursday before wrapping up the round-robin mini-league with a home encounter against the Vaal University of Technology on 7 September.
This article first appeared on varsitysportssa.com