World Cup dream a reality for SA’s Shozi
She was a soccer star at school and was destined to play for her country, and this weekend Snenhlanhla Shozi will finally realise her dream of representing South Africa at the highest level on the sports field.
However, it will not be with a round ball, but rather in another code with an oval ball in San Francisco, which is quite different to how the 21-year-old originally thought it would happen.
Instead, the fleet-footed outside back with the wicked step will be starring for the Springbok Women’s Sevens team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park. It will be 14 minutes of hustle and bustle, with high energy and intensity, and not the 90 minute-affair with foot passes and long balls she trained to do as a younger player.
“I used to be a striker and later moved to the midfield,” said Shozi after another training session in preparation of their first match against Russia on Friday morning.
“The big difference between the two codes is obviously the pace and time to finish the game. I found that the hardest when I joined the sevens team. The intensity and amount of running in those 14 minutes is just so much.”
Once a South African age-group player and provincial soccer player, the talented KwaZulu-Natalian made her mark soon after she was introduced to rugby at the Sharks.
Playing as an outside back in fifteens, it was not long before she was noticed by Springbok Women’s Sevens coach, Paul Delport and the rest, as they say, was history.
“It is great to be involved with this team and I have really enjoyed my time since I have joined them,” said Shozi.
“We have worked really hard to get here and we continued putting in a lot of effort once we got here, with a number of good training sessions.
“We have combined well as a team and we are in sync with what we want to achieve here at the Rugby World Cup Sevens. I cannot wait for Friday, when we start with a tough match against Russia. One thing I know, we will be prepared well.”
The Springbok Women’s team last played at the Commonwealth Games in April where they placed eighth. Delport then drafted in some new players, which included the silky running and playmaking skills of Shozi. This will be her first tournament with the team at this level.
“We are determined to do well for our country. We have a good spirit in the team and our confidence is good. We will be ready on Friday,” Shozi said.