Smeda's once in a lifetime opportunity
Posted: 28 June 2018 Time: 17:30
Banyana Banyana’s versatile player Leandra Smeda admits she had given up on playing football overseas, but that dream will now be realised after she signed her first professional contract.
Smeda will be moving to Lithuania to join Gintra Universitetas, a university team that plays in the professional women’s league.
Smeda, one of Banyana’s most consistent players, will join the club for the second half of the season.
After a former teammate Dina Shituula recommended that she contact the agency LTA, Smeda wasted little time in sending them video clips of her in action after they requested it. The agency then helped her secure a move abroad.
“A former teammate told me about this agency because one of their representatives is based in Namibia. So she gave me the contact details and I contacted them and they got back to me. They looked at my clips and then they signed me to the agency,” Smeda says.
“They got back to me two months ago. There was first a club from Russia, but they decided not to sign any international players for this season. And then the one from Lithuania came, so that’s how I got the team. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
At 28, Smeda did not think that she would get an opportunity to play overseas.
“I am excited because it’s not a lot of South African players that get signed abroad because of the lack of exposure. So hopefully some of my other teammates can also follow. I have already recommended to the agency some of my teammates, so hopefully doors will be opened for them as well.
“I gave up [on going overseas] long ago because when you start playing and you’ve been to the Olympics and the AWC [African Women’s Championship], our players were not getting signed until recently when Janine [van Wyk] went to the US, which opened doors for others to follow. When you look at how long it took for even her to get signed professionally, I did not expect to sign professionally. I thought I would just retire and play for fun to keep fit.”
She will leave for Lithuania on July 8.