Celine Abrahams is passionate and committed to telling the story of women’s sport in her job leading the content charge at gsport, as the initiative works to raise the profile of the game’s stars – both on and off the field – to encourage better corporate support.
Abrahams started in the industry at the age of 19, and has used every opportunity to learn and gain experience in her environment. Now, at 23, she is finding a rhythm to her career and her creativity is booming.
Her passion for sport is unsurprising coming from a close-knit sport family, with her dad and brothers all playing some level of football. But, early on, Abrahams knew that she would play a different role in sport, and her dad touted her as a future writer/commentator.
A small-town girl from KwaZulu-Natal, Abrahams set out to Johannesburg for tertiary academic studies after completing matric, but when an opportunity with Soccer Laduma beckoned in Cape Town, she threw caution to the wind on a path of self-discovery and learning, while giving herself a real shot at making a success of her career in sports media.
Now a year with gsport, she gets to put her natural leadership abilities to the test as a daily devotion, championing the coverage of women’s sport in exemplary fashion. During lockdown, Abrahams hasn’t missed a beat in telling the positive story of women’s sport.
In celebration of her first year with gsport, Editor Kass Naidoo chats to the young media star about her journey as a sports journalist, as she reveals her role models that have inspired her ambition to travel the world and tell great sport stories.
Celine, how does it feel being on the other side, rather than doing the interview?
Wow Kass, it is really interesting to be on the other side. I’m so used to asking the questions and now I have to answer them! But I do feel that this is such a great opportunity because a lot of people do read my stories and it’s time that they find out about who Celine Abrahams really is and this is the time that we get to do it. So, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share my journey with everyone and I do hope that they will enjoy it.
You are approaching one year with gsport. How have you enjoyed telling the positive story of women’s sport?
You know, it is so true when they say that time flies when you’re having fun! The past year has been so incredible for me and I’m so happy that I’ve had this opportunity you know to be a part of gsport and telling the positive stories that are out there. There’s so much negativity that is around us and I’m so happy that we have been able to just take the direction and focus it on the positive things in life, and also women’s sport over the past year has been so incredible and has flown and we’ve broken the glass ceilings, we’ve seen the woman really coming out and owning their success! I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to be part of that, it has been incredible.
“I’m hoping that the next year, we will be able to continue growing and hoping that we make a difference in every athlete’s life because that is our aim, you know, just to grow the athletes and hope that they are the best that they can be.” – gsport Content Creator, Celine Abrahams
I hope that going forward, we can continue to you know, play our part, continue to champion women’s sport and women in sport and hope that going forward we will be taking on those leadership roles and, you know, we are…we have so much to offer, so it’s about time that we really need to take that baton and run with it. So, I’m really happy that, you know, Kass and Ryk actually approached me and gave me this opportunity to play my part and it’s been a wonderful experience and I’m so happy that it’s been a year and that we are continuing with our journey. So, it’s really exciting. I’m hoping that the next year, we will be able to continue growing and hoping that we make a difference in every athlete’s life because that is our aim, you know, just to grow the athletes and hope that they are the best that they can be.
What has working in COVID times been like? I know you went home to Eshowe ?
Working during COVID-19 times really tested my creativity, I must say, but it was good. I think we had, at gsport, we had quite a great time, you know, to getting out there and interviewing people, doing profiles on athletes that we haven’t done before. So, it was actually a really great time for me. And yes, I went home! I went home to KZN. I am based in Cape Town. So, it was actually really great to be around family, you know, to be home and to be in that environment because we all uncertain about what is happening. So, it was great to be at home.
And, while I was there, I worked, I really, really worked. I made sure that, you know, every day at work, we had at least one profile just to continue telling the stories of our woman in sport, you know, okay, the live sport ended, but we continued, we had to tell the stories because there are so many stories out there. And we felt that it wouldn’t, you know, it would be so great just to continue and we did that and I’m so grateful that we were able to, and that people were so cooperative, you know, during this time, so it was really great and I’m so happy that we have continued to tell the stories. That is the most important thing for us.
What did you have to do differently during this time and how has it impacted your work?
As I mentioned, we decided that we will do a profile a day, you know, we first started out when we were given the 21 days lockdown. We decided to do a 21 days profile storytelling and then when the lockdown continued, we continued with our profiles. And every month we had a different theme; in May we decided to do Africa Month, in June, we have been doing Youth Month. By doing these profiles I have learnt so much, you know, learnt about different athletes, their aspirations, you know, their journeys, where they came from. And, you know, for me as I am still growing in the industry, I was encouraged by each story, you know, learning about others’ challenges, and overcoming those challenges. So, that really encouraged me doing those stories to see athletes who are going through such difficult times, but they’ve managed to, you know, continue because they want to make their dreams a reality. It is encouraging to know that there will be those little bumps along the way but you will come out and see the light at the end of the tunnel because you are determined to make your dreams a reality.
So that has been great for me and it has impacted my work because I have been able to improve my writing skills as well, you know, it has been so great for me, because I’ve had so much more time now during COVID-19 times to focus on my work, you know, I don’t have anything else to worry about. I’ve seen so much growth in myself over these past few months from the beginning of lockdown in March. So that has been really great for me and has had a positive effect on my career.
Where does your passion for sport come from?
I come from a sports loving family. I mean, my dad and my brothers, they used to play sports, play soccer together, my brothers played for local teams, so they’ve always loved sports and I think that also rubbed off on me from a very young age and I just wanted to be part of it. You know, I didn’t play sports in school. I think I would have loved to play sports in school. But that wasn’t there for me. So, I was more focused on academics, you know, and from primary school, I was always a writer. My father always said to me that, you know, you would be in sports, you will be in sports, not playing, but writing and commentating. So, I guess he knew exactly what my career path was going to be, but I had other ideas. I wanted to get into business because I’m also very interested in business. So that was my idea.
At school I did Maths, I did Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, and that was my path. That is what I “wanted” to do. But it was until I was at Rosebank College, I had already chosen to do Human Resources. But my first day that I went to class, I changed my mind. I was like, “This is not for me,” you know, there was something that came to me and said, “No, this is not for you. You know exactly deep down what you want to do.” And that is when I chose to do Journalism.
“I used to get so upset at times I would cry about the results if my team lost! I’ve always been so passionate about sports! I’ve always wanted to tell the stories and when I got my first job opportunity to work in sports, I grabbed it with both hands because I knew that it was what I wanted to do. And I’m so happy that I’ve been able to continue with that and all I hope for is the best. I hope that I continue to grow!” – Abrahams speaks on her passion for sports.
I just really love sports! I love the idea of going to stadiums and watching a game and just the atmosphere that really makes me all happy. It always has, you know, growing up. There were a lot of times that I wanted to smash the TV and my mother thought I was crazy! It’s because I was so much passionate, especially when it came to the team that I supported. I used to get so upset at times I would cry about the results if my team lost! I’ve always been so passionate about sports! I’ve always wanted to tell the stories and when I got my first job opportunity to work in sports, I grabbed it with both hands because I knew that it was what I wanted to do. And I’m so happy that I’ve been able to continue with that and all I hope for is the best. I hope that I continue to grow!
Tell us about the years after finishing school and moving to Cape Town?
So, I have a really interesting story of how I ended up in Cape Town. I matriculated in 2015 and when I was in Johannesburg, I approached a guy called Gareth Johnston, who was the Sub-Editor at Soccer Laduma at the time and that was in 2016. And, I asked him like what the process was to get an internship and with the you know, how long you have to study to get that opportunity. And he said to me, “Send me some of your ideas and some stories, and then we can talk from there.” So, I sent him five different articles. The following day he replied to my email and he said, “We do have an intern, but he is leaving. So, there will be an opportunity if you want it and we know that you are just starting out with your studies, but I think this will be a great opportunity for you.” I didn’t know what to do, because I was still a full-time student, which meant that I had to be at campus every day.
And in my mind, I thought that Soccer Laduma was in Johannesburg. To my surprise, it was all the way in Cape Town. So, I didn’t know what to do, really. I knew that I wanted to take the opportunity, but at the same time I had my studies to focus on. So, I called my parents and I told them the situation and they told me to follow my heart. And, I did! I followed my heart and I came to Cape Town to take up the opportunity. I was an intern for six months and then permanent for three years in total. It was so amazing, you know, I was living my dream! Getting that opportunity to interview the people that I’ve been watching for so many years that was so amazing.
When I started I was 19-years-old, 19-years-old, can you believe it? I was in a place where they are guys with 20 years experience in the game. So that was a such a learning curve for me. I learned so much from everyone else around me and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity. So also, you know, thank you to Soccer Laduma for taking a chance with a young girl who was just passionate and falling her dreams. I’ve grown so much since then, as I did say, you know, in the beginning of the interview, and I’m so grateful for the times that I had there.
What are you enjoying most about working in women’s sport?
Honestly, I’m really loving that I have the opportunity to champion other women in sport, and I love telling their stories. I know what it’s like to be in a situation where you don’t really have a voice to tell your story and I love that I get to do that now. I know that there are so many women out there who have so many great stories to tell, who are doing a great job and their stories are not being told. So I’m really glad that I have that opportunity to do it for them and to do it with them.
What have been your biggest highlights working with gsport?
Yes, so many highlights! There are so many highlights that I can mention, but I think the one that stands out the most for me, was working on the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards. The build-up was incredible for the awards and doing the interviews was amazing. It was my first time doing an awards ceremony, so that was incredible. And then the big night giving out the awards and seeing the happiness and the joy, you know, all the winners, that was an amazing sight to see. Thinking back on what was such an incredible night and everyone who was there can attest to this. Also, just getting the opportunity to work together with Momentum. I think they have also been really incredible, you know, just them showing their support for women. I think they’ve done an incredible job and kudos to Momentum for backing our women in sport. Also, personally again, you know, just me growing with gsport and becoming a better writer and a better journalist. I’d like to thank Kass, you know, Kass has played a very important part in my journey. She has, you know, given me all the tips and given me the tricks, and I just want to thank her for always being there for me. Holding my hand because it’s not easy, you know, to try make a name for yourself and try to do your best all the time and she has, you know, been there with me on this journey. I just want to thank her, you know, for all that she has done. So yeah, my journey and most memorable moments here at gsport will definitely be working with the gsport Team and working on the Momentum gsport Awards.
How different is it working for in men’s sport vs women’s sport?
I feel that working in women’s sports, I have more of a voice. I mean, working in men’s sport, you are dealing with a lot of men. And it’s not like I’m being sexist or anything but being one of the few females in a male-dominated environment, you do sometimes feel like you don’t have a voice. And when you do pitch up ideas, sometimes they are pushed to the side. So, I do feel that I’m more comfortable working in women’s sport. I also feel that we are all working towards a common goal. We all want to, you know, to grow, we all want to be heard, so we are all going in the same direction. I love the idea of how we are sticking together. I love that we are not bringing each other down, which we shouldn’t be doing, you know, we should be holding each other’s hands and should be championing each other because we all want to be you know, heard and we all want to make it our dreams a reality, so why bring each other down?
What is the state of women’s sport and how can we improve it?
As I always say, you know, women’s sports is going to take over the world! We are getting there, and we are getting there really fast. So, I’m happy that I’ve been able to be part of this journey and it’s an incredible journey to be a part of. Anybody who’s looking to get into sport, they are looking towards women’s sport because we are taking over. I mean, growing up, I hardly heard about women’s sports and that is also one of the reasons why I literally focused more on men’s sport at the time and that’s how I got into men’s sport first my career.
I mean, if you look at the past year, we have grown so much and I’m so grateful to see that sponsors are coming on board to support women’s sport because that is definitely what we need. We need sponsors to come on board in order for us to improve. We need leagues, you know, I’m so grateful that locally with our cricket and our soccer we are getting those going at least, but there is still a long way to go. We’ve created the foundation, but we need to build on it, you know, and we need to build it fast because the rest of the world is continuing. I mean, you look at other countries and what they have in place for the women athletes, they are really on board, you know, they are going and we need to get there. We need to get there fast as South Africans, but I believe that we are on the right path, we have the ideas in place, we have more women, you know, getting into those leadership roles, which I think will also help, you know, build women’s sport for us.
“So, yes, more sponsorships, more media coverage on women sports, that could definitely improve, you know, the idea of getting people wanting to be in women’s sport.” – Abrahams speaks on investing on women in sport.
So, yes, more sponsorships, more media coverage on women sports, that could definitely improve, you know, the idea of getting people wanting to be in women’s sport. I mean, if you look at the younger generations, and especially the young girls, they would want to get into sport if they see other athletes getting paid properly. You know, getting the media coverage and having an equal playing field. If that happens, then we can definitely improve and begin to give them more reason to back women’s sport and wanting to get into the environment.
Who are your favourite women in sport and why?
There are three women in sport that I look up to. Kass Naidoo, Carol Tshabalala and Melissa Reddy, these are three powerful women! I mean, look at Kass, Kass has achieved so much in her career and there are days when we think of how she continues to carry on doing what she does. I mean, she is a mother, she’s a wife, as she is a champion. I really admire her for all the work that she continues to do and for her determination, you know, to always want to be the best version of herself. That is my daily inspiration, you know, and getting the opportunity to be by her side has also been such an amazing experience for me.
When I look at Carol, she has done an incredible job. From her early days and up until now, she has blown us all, you know. She’s known across the world and continues to be such a humble woman. And when I look at Melissa Reddy – I was so fortunate to do an interview with her – and I look at the time when she started off, going on to become the Deputy Editor at KickOff Magazine and then making her big move to England, you know, to do her work there and to work closely with Liverpool. These ladies have done such an incredible job and they are continuing to do so. Thanks to them for leading the way and showing us that your dreams are possible, you know that nothing can stop you when you are passionate about something, go for it.
What is your advice to young women who are chasing their dreams?
My advice for young women chasing their dreams is to never give up. You know exactly what you want out of life, you know the goals that you have, you know what you are trying to achieve. I must say that there are going to be a lot of people who are going to question you, there are people that are going to doubt you, but don’t let that get to you. You know exactly what you want out of life, You know the impact that you want to make and all I can say is the world is your oyster. I know for myself that I’m still in the beginning and I know that there are some many challenges that I’m going to face. But I know exactly what I want out of life and I know the impact that I want to make in sport. So, I’m going to continue, I’m going to continue fighting for what I believe is right, and I’m going to continue fighting for my dreams. So, you do the same! You fight for your dreams, whether it is in sport, or whether it is in another career, you do you! Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything. You can do anything that you put your mind to.
What is your greatest ambition?
My greatest ambition is to travel the world and to tell the stories of different women in sport. You know, I love storytelling and that’s all I want to do, you know, be known as the woman who champions women’s support. There are so many stories out there and I want to be the one who tells them you know, even if it means me writing a book one day, I would love to do that. Honestly my life is in sports and I believe that this is my calling.
Photo 1 Caption: Celine Abrahams is passionate and committed to telling the story of women’s sport in her job leading the content charge at gsport, as the initiative works to raise the profile of the game’s stars – both on and off the field – to encourage better corporate support. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 Caption: Abrahams started in the industry at the age of 19, and has used every opportunity to learn and gain experience in her environment. Now, at 23, she is finding a rhythm to her career and her creativity is booming. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: Her passion for sport is unsurprising coming from a close-knit sport family, with her dad and brothers all playing some level of football. But, early on, Abrahams knew that she would play a different role in sport, and her dad touted her as a future writer/commentator. Photo: Supplied
Photo 4 Caption: A small-town girl from KwaZulu-Natal, Abrahams set out to Johannesburg for tertiary academic studies after completing matric, but when an opportunity with Soccer Laduma beckoned in Cape Town, she threw caution to the wind on a path of self-discovery and learning, while giving herself a real shot at making a success of her career in sports media. Photo: Supplied
Photo 5 Caption: Now a year with gsport, she gets to put her natural leadership abilities to the test as a daily devotion, championing the coverage of women’s sport in exemplary fashion. During lockdown, Abrahams hasn’t missed a beat in telling the positive story of women’s sport. Photo: Supplied