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Leandra Smeda

UWC star gets Banyana call-up

Having been in sterling form that has seen her bagging goals in almost every game over the past few months, it was not surprising that sensational UWC star footballer Leandra Smeda made the cut in the South African Women’s Senior National team for the upcoming African Women’s Championship (AWC). The AWC is organised by the Confederation of African Football.

The skilful attacking midfielder was included in the 21 member Team Banyana Banyana squad that will do battle in what has been described as the “group of death” in the 10th edition of the AWC event which kicks-off in Namibia on Saturday, 11 October 2014. Other teams in the group are Algeria, Cameroon and Ghana, and the top three teams in this biannual tournament will qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Smeda, a UWC postgraduate student in sport, development and peace, is an experienced Banyana Banyana member with 36 caps, having scored 13 goals. She is comfortable with the ball on both feet and can play on either side of the field, or in the middle.

She has scored most of her goals in recent matches under the current coach, Vera Pauw, and that gave her confidence to make the final squad for the AWC. “I wasn't really surprised about my selection into the final team because I’ve been in good form for the national team in the past few months,” said Smeda, who hails from Veldrift in the West Coast. “I'm very happy for making the final team and my goal is to help the team to qualify for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada”.

A food technologist by profession, Smeda also has personal goals in the tournament. “I want to become the tournament’s top goal scorer, or be the player of the tournament.”

Smeda notes that UWC has played a huge role in her blossoming soccer career. “UWC was the first club I played for when I moved to Cape Town to further my studies in 2008, and the club has helped me grow as a footballer over the years.”

Her involvement in the national arena has also been beneficial to the UWC team. “I always tell my teammates about my experiences in the national team, and share my training programme and the playing style we use at Banyana Banyana with my coach, so that he can implement it at the club.”