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‘Enjoy sport and believe in yourself’

Leandra Smeda (29) is making waves both at home and overseas as a hardworking and dedicated footballer who has her eyes set on helping both club and country achieve more silverware.

She was born in Velddrif and attended Noordhoek Primary up until Grade nine and finished her schooling at Weston High School in Vredenburg.

Weslander recently reached out to Smeda to uncover what fuels her passion for the sport, how her soccer career has unfolded so far as well as what her goals are for this year.

It seems the love for sport flows through the veins of Smeda’s family as she recalls that both her parents played sport and how she used to watch them play as a child.

“I was about six years old when my mom taught me how to play netball. My mother played netball and father played rugby and soccer, I think that’s where the love for sport came from.”

Like many great footballers, Smeda began playing soccer on the streets, as she recalls playing her first match with her brother and his friends at the age of 10.

She adds that she began playing club/school soccer at age 11.

Smeda also explains that her journey as a soccer player so far has been both thrilling and challenging at times.

“Having to balance soccer and school was hard and what I’ve learned is that soccer is a very short career and it helps to have an education as well to fall back on, if things don’t work out for you as a professional player,” says the Banyana Banyana defensive central midfielder.

Her favourite position is playing as an attacking midfielder though.

“I’m currently playing for Vittsjo GIK in Sweden and my previous clubs include: Gintra Univesitetas FK; UWC ladies FC; Cape Town Roses FC and Ambassadors ladies FC,” explains Smeda.

She has approximately 18 years of experience as a footballer. Smeda also made history when she became the first South African to score in a UEFA Women’s Champions League match. She adds that it is a massive honour to represent South Africa with Banyana Banyana and she received her first call-up to the team in 2010. Part of her fitness routine consists of training once a day, six days a week.

“My all-time favourite SA footballer is Teko Modise and I’ve been a Manchester United supporter all my life.”

Among her goals for this year is to participate in the upcoming Fifa Women’s World Cup, which is hosted by France and takes place from Friday 7 June to Sunday 7 July.

Smeda shared the following advice with young girls and boys who also wish to take up soccer. “Work hard and be disciplined in both soccer and your schoolwork, enjoy the sport and always believe in yourself.”

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