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18 February 2022
Antonia Maponya’s fairy tale within Banyana Banyana set-up
Not many can juggle both a football career and a hectic university schedule but it is a different story for 22-year-old defender, Antonia Maponya who made her debut for the senior women’s team in an international friendly against Zambia last weekend.

The player who is a product of development after starting at junior level, playing for both the U17 and U20 national teams while based at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre (HPC), expressed her excitement at making her senior debut. She however believes hard work will be needed to be a regular in coach Desiree Ellis' star-studded team.

“At first, the call-up was overwhelming but I was able to calm myself down as I am familiar with some of my teammates whom I played with in the Hollywoodbets Super League [for UWC Ladies] and others from the junior levels,” said Maponya.

“The intensity at training was challenging but I had support from other players and that helped me settle in well.

“My debut was not bad despite a few mistakes at the beginning but I enjoyed the experience of playing at the highest level with high intensity and that taught me so much,’’ added the left-footer.

Maponya is not only a footballer but a Business Admin Cum Laude graduate who is currently busy with her honours at the UDubs.

“It’s not easy juggling school and football but as someone who spent her time at HPC it was not too hard as we were taught how to find a fine balance between school and sports and that’s how I managed. However, it becomes a challenge at times especially when travelling is involved and while trying to meet deadlines at the same time,’’ she continued.

“As a woman footballer in South Africa, opportunities are scarce as compared to our male counterparts and that is why education is important. Education serves as a fallback plan, say should one suffer a career-ending injury. I would greatly encourage education for all players to take seriously.”

The player who looks up to American wing-back, Crystal Dunn, has ambitions of moving abroad but her focus right now is to improve both her studies and her football career.

“The focus right now is to work hard and fight for regular game time in the field of play and in my studies,’’ concluded Maponya.

This article first appeared on safa.net - 16 February 2022. Images by Skhu Nkomphela/UWC Sport.
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