In just over two weeks, Leah Goodman, a Grade 11 learner at Westerford High School in Rondebosch, will be flying to the Czech Republic to represent South Africa at the EU Nations Cup championships in Brno.Leah is one of 13 young women who have been selected for the SA u.17 water polo girls team to participate in the competition from Wednesday 11 to Tuesday 17 March.Having only heard last week that she had made the team, Leah is still a bit overwhelmed. She was at school when her dad, Martin Goodman, phoned her on Monday 17 February to tell her she better start packing for Czech Republic. “I was super excited when I got my dad’s call. I had been waiting for the news for a while and was just so overjoyed when I heard that I made the team,” she says. To be chosen for this tour, players had to participate in the 2019 Schools’ Water Polo South Africa inter-provincial tournament which took place in Johannesburg in December. Of the girls selected, only two hail from the Western Cape. The other girl selected is Mia Nunez, a close friend of Leah’s.“I am so incredibly happy for her. She has worked so hard to get where she is now and I’m just so excited to be touring with her,” says Leah. Asked how it feels to represent South Africa, Leah says she is incredibly honoured and humbled.“It’s what keeps me motivated to train hard and it gives me something to work towards,” she says.This is the second time that Leah will be flying South Africa’s flag in an international competition. February last year, she also made the u.16 SA side that went to Namibia to participate in the Cana Zone IV Youth (16 and under girls/boys) water polo championships in Windhoek. Leah says she has loved swimming for as long as she can remember. She started swimming in a squad at age 11.“Then my parents enrolled me for one water polo lesson a week to break the monotony. I enjoyed it so much that I started going to more and more water polo practices and it soon overtook swimming,” she says. Today she plays for several teams. Besides being in her school’s first water polo team, coached by Weston Crew, she also plays for the Western Warriors, a club team coached by Alex Hawkins. At the end of last year, she played for u.19 Western Province, coached by Chad Gabriels. However, it takes a lot of hard work.“Water polo is a discipline that requires a huge amount of time to acquire the skills to play well. I practice six days a week and, most days, twice a day,” she says.But it is exactly this feeling of accomplishment, as well as the sense of camaraderie which she loves. “I love winning, and the work and effort required to have the ability to win. The relationships you build with your teammates are so unlike any other relationships I’ve experienced before. It’s empowering to see your friends working hard with you towards a common goal,” she says. According to Leah, it was her parents who first inspired her to get involved in the sport. “They live a very active, healthy lifestyle and have always encouraged me to be active.”Leah’s mom, Bonney, says they are very proud of their daughter’s achievements. “But mostly we are so pleased that Leah’s hard work is paying off and is being recognised,” Bonney says.Looking forward, Leah plans to study overseas and play the sport at the highest level.“My goal is to play in the next Olympics in four years,” she says.