Ijeoma Okigbo Blazing a Trail in Sport Broadcasting

Nigerian sport journalist, Ijeoma Okigbo, believes women who are currently moving into powerful roles in the sport broadcasting space are blazing a trail for the next generation. Photo: Supplied

Nigerian sport journalist, Ijeoma Okigbo, believes women who are currently moving into powerful roles in the sport broadcasting space are blazing a trail for the next generation.

Initially, Okigbo’s path in journalism was not set in stone as the Philosophy graduate was introduced to the game at the News Agency of Nigeria during her youth service.

It was at the agency where she delved into sport journalism and has since founded Girls Aspire Sports Initiative, which is aimed at promoting girls participating in sport.

Earlier this year, Okigbo was selected to be part of the second edition of the ICC 100% Cricket Future Leaders Program.

The mentoring scheme has been designed to support emerging women talent in cricket and address the low percentage of women in leadership roles in sport.

Okigbo hopes through the program she will be able to provide more quality cricket articles to attract sponsors for women’s cricket and share knowledge gained to mentor the youth.

Speaking with Tatenda Gondo, Okigbo reveals how the landscape has changed for women’s sport and her career aspirations.

 

Thank you for taking your time out to chat with us. May you please tell us a brief history about yourself.

I am Ijeoma Okigbo, a journalist for News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja. I am also the founder of Girls Aspire Sports Initiative, which is a non-governmental organization aimed at promoting girls participating in sport.

 

When and how did you get involved in sport journalism?

I studied philosophy as my first degree in University, and I feel I stumbled in this profession in 2013. After completion of my first degree, I was sent for a National Youth Service, and I was attached to a media house called News Agency of Nigeria working with their sports desk. A year later, I was appointed as a full-time journalist by the News Agency of Nigeria.

 

Before you ventured into sport journalism, were you involved in any sport growing up?

No, I wasn’t involved in any sport because there was a time where I assumed sport was not feminine. To me, women athletes looked like they were interested in mimicking male athletes. This assumption changed after I discovered that most women athletes performed very much better than their male counterparts.

 

Looking back at the last 5 years, has the landscape of women’s sport reporting changed, and what would you attribute this change to?

Yes, women’s sport reporting and coverage has changed and I would attribute this change to a conscious effort from those who have been in sport reporting before. They have empowered other women and are working hard to ensure that women’s sport events are broadcasted live. Furthermore, thumbs up to our male editors for giving female journalists a chance to be part of the editorial team.

 

You were recently accepted into the ICC 100% Cricket Future Leaders Program. How has it been going for you?

Everything is going on well! We had our first session on the 16th of February. India’s sport journalist, Sharda Ugra, is my mentor, so we usually have individual meetings with our mentors or just general meetings.

 

What do you think the Nigeria sport media will benefit from you after you have completed this program?

Firstly, my cricket writing and reporting skills will improve – more quality cricket articles that should attract sponsors for women’s cricket. I also want to impact the knowledge I would have gained onto other youngsters who intend to venture into sport journalism.

 

What do you think should be done to encourage more girls in Africa to play cricket?

There should be more awareness programs for cricket as a sporting code. More grassroots cricket development programs are also needed. Girls require space to train and play cricket without disruption and lastly, we require more cricket equipment for the girls – cricket is an expensive sport code and without a bat and a ball, you cannot play the game.

 

Who are the female sports journalists you look up to?

Well, I look up to several of them, the ones that come to mind immediately are Usher Komugisha of Uganda, Carol Tshabalala and Julia Stuart from South Africa. In Nigeria, I look up to Janine Anthony.

 

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I hope that I would have impacted as many lives as possible. And for Aspire Girls, I hope that we will get the appropriate partners to help our vision come to fruition.

On a personal level, I want to be a better journalist, work on my confidence, attend the Olympic Games and the ICC World Cup. Another long-time goal is venturing more into broadcasting and starting my sport show.

 

Photo 1 Caption: Nigerian sport journalist, Ijeoma Okigbo, believes women who are currently moving into powerful roles in the sport broadcasting space are blazing a trail for the next generation. Photo: Supplied

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