Leila Broomhall – A balancing act treading water with passion

Leila Broomhall, a rising star in the world of water polo, recently walked across the graduation stage at Stellenbosch University’s March graduation ceremony. The BSc graduate spent her formative years in Noordhoek alongside her parents, Tanya and Grant Broomhall, and younger brother.

Her academic journey started at Bay Primary, followed by Reddam House in Constantia, where her love for swimming and sport ignited her water polo career. Broomhall (22) has already left an indelible mark on the water polo scene. Her journey into the sport was not predestined; rather, it emerged from her finesse and talent as a swimmer and her enrolment at Reddam House, which is renowned for its water polo program.

“At first, I was not sure what I wanted to pursue. But I chose sports science because I love movement and have always been involved in sports throughout high school,” Broomhall said. “Studying biomechanics and physiology helped me understand the intricacies of the human body, which ultimately led me to pursue a BSc in Biokinetics.

“I never imagined I would represent South Africa in water polo. It started as just trying out for the sport, but it grew into my biggest passion.

“Balancing being a student and an athlete was challenging. There were times when I had to prioritise training over studying, but it taught me valuable lessons in time management,” she explains. “I had to find a balance between pursuing my passion for water polo and excelling academically.”

Reflecting on her journey, Broomhall recalls moments of doubt and realisation. It was during her school years, representing the SA U16 team, that she first showed her potential as a national athlete.

“Being selected for the SA U16 team was a turning point for me. It made me realise that I had the potential to go further in water polo.” Yet, with resilience and determination, she found herself back on track, earning her spot in the national squad during her first year at university.

Like any student-athlete, balancing student, social, and academic life is key to thriving and results in a well-rounded individual.

“Balancing water polo commitments with university studies was tough. There were times when I had to miss lectures or postpone assignments due to training or competitions. Being away on tour also posed challenges, as I had to juggle the demands of competition with catching up on my studies post-tour.

She concluded by saying: “My journey in water polo has taught me to never underestimate myself. It is about pushing through challenges and believing in your abilities.”