Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana’s Leandra Smeda has joined a top and well experienced group of national team players who have obtained 100 caps. The midfielder received her 100th cap and was honoured by Sasol and SAFA during Banyana Banyana’s recent friendly match in Japan. The match took place at the Kitakyushu stadium on Sunday, 10 November 2019.
As a young girl watching her father play football, Smeda became interested in the sport and was inspired to play. She quickly realised how good she was after being selected for the South African School Games, representing Western Cape’s under 12 girls’ team.
“At age 11 I realised that football is what I truly love and enjoy. Although I participated in other sports, I always gravitated more towards the game of football,” she said.
Growing up in Velddrif, Leandra played in the Sasol League for over eight years with teams such as Ambassadors Ladies, Cape Town Roses and University of Cape Town. She was then scouted and invited to join Banyana Banyana in 2010. After eight years in the national team, Smeda finally received her first international contract in 2018, earning herself a spot in Luthianian club, Gintra Universitetas. She then moved to Swedish club, Vittsjö GIK where she is currently based. Although she’s playing for a well-known international team, Leandra admits that it all started in the Sasol League.
“I think Sasol’s sponsorship has been really good for women’s football in South Africa. Women footballers are receiving more exposure, you can see it by the number of players from both Banyana Banyana and the Sasol League obtaining contracts abroad. I don’t think I would be here today if I did not receive the opportunity to play and show my talent through the Sasol League, so I’m really grateful for that,” she said.
It hasn’t been an easy journey to 100 caps as Smeda recalls some of the challenges that she faced along the way.
“The biggest challenge I faced in my football career was when I was still a student and had to study, work and play football. It was really difficult for me but with my family and friends’ support, I pushed through it all and made sure that I still excel in the sport. That is truly what I believe being Limitless is all about; pushing through the challenges and working hard towards your dreams. My advice to upcoming football players is to work hard, believe in themselves and enjoy the game. They should also put the same effort into school and their studies because the two work hand in hand,” she concluded. For more information on the Limitless initiative and to show your support, search #Limitless on Twitter or YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jMRZ_CJR3Y