Get to know a former star: Exclusive interview with former Brave Gladiators Skipper.

By: Nancy N. Halweendo

Combine consistency, dedication and talent and I tell you now, you will get Leandri Lucas!! Yes, at times her dribbles didn’t end in a celebration, but like the late Corry Ihuhua would say, Lucas was a knack of scoring goals at will.

In a get to know a former star interview with SRSM, the masterful educator chats about hanging up her boots, the transition from player to coach and giving back to her community. Let’s go!!

Age: 33

Profession: Teacher

Region: Erongo

Fun fact:

Only Brave Gladiators player to ever score against Nigeria.

Who plays the most important role in your life?

My Mother passed on last year, so I would say my Father.

Tell us a bit more about Leandri; where did she grow up and when did she start playing football?

Well, I grew up in Rehoboth and I was very close to my brothers, so at the age of five, I was already a street soccer player, as we called it back then. [Laughs].

Who inspired you to play

I guess the right answer here would be my family’s love and support. They always allowed me to pursue whatever I was good at, and growing up, football was one of those things. They have been a great pillar of support, especially my Father.

Did you show interest or get involved in any other sport, or have you always been strictly a football girl?

I have always loved sports. In primary, I participated in athletics and netball, and later had a whole sports program in high school, adding football and hockey to the list.

When did you hang your boots and why?

I hung my boots in 2010. My parents were very strict on education because they wanted nothing short of the best for and from us, and personally, my education came first before anything else. I took the decision to stop playing and focus on my studies.

What has been your  greatest career highlight.

My greatest highlight was starting the Walvisbay Girls Football School League, which runs to this very day. [Smiles]

What has been your greatest lowlight to date?

Strange, but I don’t really have one. The closest I have to a lowlight is probably the challenge of being a female footballer back then, in a male dominated sport code.

You mentioned the challenge of being a lady footballer. How did you manage to be a great player and captain despite all the challenges?

Resilience and determination. I set targets and goals and strived to achieve them the best way I could. I always found a way to overcome and keep going.

Who is the toughest opponent you have played against both locally and internationally?

Locally: Okahandja Beauties

Internationally: Nigeria

Let’s fast forward to 2022. How did you find yourself in the coaching department?

I’ve been a player for almost 15 years and while playing, I identified a need for educators in my region [Erongo]. Now at 33, I am coaching in Walvisbay and giving back to my community.

How different is Coaching from playing?

[Breathes deeply] Shuuu! Coaching and playing are two different activities. Being a coach comes with more responsibilities and constantly leading by example. The only thing we did as players was show and train. [Laughs]

How active is women football in your region?

Football activity went down since the pandemic outbreak in 2020, but the School league has since kicked off. We now wait on the Regional leagues.

Who’s your current favorite local female football star?

Kylie Van Wyk

What distinguishes Kylie from the rest?

She is young, talented and has great potential.

Do you think women football in Namibia has progressed since you first started playing?

Definitely. There is significant change in women football development in the country. Current players are exposed to more and better resources than we were, there are more women football clubs, development programs, and even facilities like gyms have improved and increased.

What are some of the positive changes you would like to see?

It would be great to see women footballers getting actual salaries from playing league football.

Does women football in Namibia get sufficient support and media coverage to keep it alive?

Not at all. We need both; more media coverage and support.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt from working with kids aspiring to become footballers?

To always be active, vigilant and fun because kids learn faster and with ease, when they can enjoy the sessions.

How important are football development courses in empowering women in sports in the country?

 I would say very important because it gives us [women] a sense of belonging and is a good platform for engagements dedicated towards making significant changes in our societies.

What would you do differently for women in sports?

I would suggest hosting a coaching courses just for women in sport in the country. It will give us unity and help us have a better understanding of the roles we play as women in our respective sports codes.

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