SA Woman Rugby Player Snenhlanhla Shozi Responds To ‘The Calling’ By Cheryl Roberts

7 Sep

 WomenÕs 15s camp

It happened on the sports field. When ‘The Calling’ arrived. Snenhlanhla Shozi was playing in a friendly interprovincial women’s rugby match in Durban, last June. Sne was playing for KZN against SA women’s rugby champions, Border. She was having a good game, her rugby prowess already standing out in the game. And then she went down.

I turned my camera onto the player that was down, to pick up an image of what I thought was an injured player getting medical attention. She stayed down on the ground for long. She turned over her body. I thought she was writhing in pain. I whispered to medical services nearby me that they should intervene as she needed medical assistance. Someone responded ‘It’s okay. It’s something spiritual going on with her (that was Sne)’. I thought ‘something got hold of her’. After the match, I got my pics of the game, looked out for Sne and saw she still had people around her. I walked away from the rugby field.

The next day, 21 year old Snenhlanhla Shozi, one of South Africa’s most talented young women rugby players, got onto a bus from Durban and travelled to East London. She was responding to ‘the calling.’

A year later, Sne Shozi would get a call-up to the SA women’s rugby sevens squad, be announced in the SA 7’s team and participate in the World Cup Series in the USA. This was in July, this year. At the World Cup Series, played in San Francisco, Sne didn’t just become another SA international women’s rugby player. She went on to score a hat-trick of tries and make herstory as the first South African woman rugby player to score a hat-trick of tries in a World Cup series match.

A year before Sne went down on the rugby field in response to ‘the calling’ (that was in July 2016), I got to know about her when Wendy Khumalo, the then KZN girls youth rugby co-ordinator told me about sportsgirl Snenhlanhla Shozi was playing football and rugby and had already played for the SA women’s u20 football team and KZN girl rugby team. I thought Snenhlanhla would probably get more out of football that out of rugby because women’s rugby in KZN doesn’t get much support from KZN Rugby.

Two years later, its rugby that has surfaced this amazing talent and taken her into higher levels of the game to have her playing international rugby with SA’s elite quality women rugby players and against internationals of the world.

‘I’m happy I responded to my calling,’ says Snenhlanhla. ‘I didn’t delay it’. The decision was taken very quickly by Sne to go to Mdantsane in East London and start the process to become a traditional healer. ‘I took a quick after what happened to me on the rugby field. I went to East London and started my Sangoma training. I also started played with Border senior women’s rugby team.’

This year, Snenhlanhla stayed on in East London and continued her pathway to become a traditional healer. She also enrolled as a first year student at Walter Sisulu University and started a sports management degree. She’s also playing football, when the time allows and plays for the university team. It was football that attracted Snenhlanhla to sport. Living in Kwanyuswa nearby Botha’s Hill in Durban, Sne started kicking footballs with the boys in her village. It was her village coach Pisto who took her to play for a women’s football and she joined coach Lewis Donnelly of Barcelona Shooting Stars. Soon Snenhlanhla was enrolled on a bursary/scholarship at Kloof High School where she also played touch rugby. Still playing girls football and showing much promise and talent on the football field, Snenhlanhla got selected into the KZN girls rugby team that played in SA Rugby’s national youth week. From then on, there was no looking anywhere else but forward but opportunities and selections coming her way for further development in rugby.

Snenhlanhla says she’s in a happy space, at this moment in her young life. ‘I’m studying at a university, playing rugby for South Africa and responding to my calling.’

The formal ceremony when Snenhlanhla becomes a Sangoma must still take place and she’s looking forward to when it happens. But first, the young sportswoman and student must get some money so she can buy the cow and goats for the formal ceremony that will celebrate her Sangoma ‘qualification’. Hopefully, that will be in December, this year.

Despite her phenomenal debut performance at the World Cup Series, no sponsor contacted this young sportswoman to be associated with her sports prowess. She hasn’t yet been offered an SA sevens contract, and she doesn’t get paid for playing interprovincial rugby. Snenhlahla is hoping to she gets selected for the Springbok women’s team that will tour Wales in October so she can maybe get some money and fund her Sangoma ceremony in December.

I’m hoping that this awesome young sportswoman talent is given very opportunity to become a professional world class international sportswoman and not be confined to becoming just another struggling black sportswoman whose talent is never fully realised and rewarded.


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