Three-time World University Games participant Kholosa Biyana has made enormous strides in her career so far, including having gone to a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
However, it is her continued resilience in studies that has made her dual career prospects possible.
Biyana, who was born in Eastern Cape has been playing soccer from the tender age of eight. She tells a heartfelt story of sacrifice from her father in particular.
“My dad was my support system, he would drive me to practice every day and he would have to drive back home an hour away, as I was in boarding school and they would not allow me to leave the premises alone,” says the grateful Biyana.
It is for this reason that her father remains one of her biggest inspirations.
Another value that was instilled by her parents was the importance of education and being able to have a dual career.
“Education is very important. I know I love football and I know I can make a living out of it but things are different in South Africa, as we do not have a professional league here.”
“I know there will come a stage when I won’t be able to play professional football,” she says. “I need to have something to fall back on. Injuries occur sometimes and I should be ready if something like that happens. Not only will education help me in the future, but I can also apply the knowledge I gain while playing soccer; aspects such as injury prevention, rehabilitation, sport psychology among others.”
Due to university sports in South Africa being cancelled for the reminder of the year, Biyana has used the lockdown to focus on her studies.
“I am doing my Honors degree in Biokinetics. It is very challenging but I have this time now, without football. We have been doing online learning from the second week of lockdown in April. They (university) have been giving us a lot of tests, assignments and presentations, and I will be writing exams soon.”
“Sometimes, I feel like quitting but I have one goal; to finish this year even if it means crawling to the finish line,” said the Honors degree prospect.
Biyana has participated in not one but three World University Games, consecutively from 2015 to 2019. Biyana cites the 2017 campaign in Taipei as one of her team’s best as they finished fourth overall, after she scored the only goal to send them to the semi-finals.
“It was a great experience because we all had the same goal,” she reminisces. “When we came back from those games, I think 7 of us got a national team call up which was great for USSA football.”
The impact University Sport South Africa has had on Biyana’s football career has been immense. She says, “Through education, you can achieve your goals. USSA is doing a great job because that is where most players get exposure. Some of the players are now in the Premier Soccer League and others in the Glad African Championship. Student-athletes must start taking advantage of the platform given to them.”
Biyana, who is a qualified diagnostic radiographer, also shared some words of wisdom with other student-athletes: “Our journeys are different, we won’t all play at the World University Games. Not everyone will represent their country at national level. Education is the best thing you can fall back on if things don’t work out the way you want them to. Let’s get that qualification!”
Biyana tells FISU about her experience at the FIFA Women’s World Cup last year: “I never thought I would get to that stage but eventually I did. I have learnt a lot from it, from playing against the best players in the world. It is an experience that no one can take away from me.”
She adds that representing South Africa is an honour. “There are thousands of soccer players in the country, they could be playing but in that particular time it was me, grabbing the opportunity and making sure I gave it my best when the opportunity came is the most important thing.”
Some of Biyana’s goals include playing in a top professional league, AFCON tournaments, an Olympics and another World Cup. And of course, finishing her degree!
(Source: University Sport South Africa)