Lunga Ntuli Encourages Men to Back Women in Sport

by | Jul 10, 2020

July has been marked as Men’s Month and we have decided to shine the spotlight on the incredible male figures who continue to play their part in uplifting women’s sport in South Africa.

To kick start our series, we reflect on the journey of 2009 gsport Volunteer of the Year, Lunga Ntuli, who started championing women’s sport as a teenager and helped put many current champions on the map.

Our first encounter with Ntuli was back in 2007 when a young, undergraduate self-published his first online story about his women’s cricket club, Nkobongo, that participated in the Durban District Cricket Union Women’s League.

At 19, Ntuli had been involved in women’s sport from High School and felt that he had to get involved to help girls achieve their sporting dreams, especially during a time when they were encouraged to take on sporting codes that were considered female sports.

During that era, it was not common to see men backing women’s sport but being brought up by a single mother and having a twin sister changed Ntuli’s outlook on life as he vowed to always safeguard the opposite gender.

Publishing his story on gsport had a ripple effect on his career as he went on to write for major publications in the country and has released six books to date.

The entrepreneur who owns the LN Watches brand hopes that in future women will be taken seriously as he chats to Celine Abrahams. Ntuli also talks about being a girl-dad.

Lunga, welcome back to gsport! gsport’s first online encounter with you was back in 2007 when you blogged about your women’s cricket club. How has your life evolved since then?

Thank you so much for taking me back! It’s been 13 years since my first encounter, but it feels like yesterday. There are many factors that makes me humble about it. The first is, I was an undergraduate at that time. That first article I wrote for gsport about women’s cricket club opened amazing opportunities for me in the media space. I ended up writing for huge publications such as Isolezwe, Sunday Times Zulu Edition, North Coast Courier, Kwana and many others.

“What gsport4girls did was to make me believe that my dreams are valid.” – 2009 gsport Volunteer of the Year Award winner, Lunga Ntuli.

To date, I have self-published six books and involved in entrepreneurship with my watch brand called LN Watches. So, what gsport4girls did was to make me believe that my dreams are valid. That was through the first media coverage I got after winning the award and being in a hotel and taking a flight for the first time. I remember when I was told I will be receiving an award, Ryk (who was the editor) said to me, “Lunga, I want you to walk out there as if its already five years from now and you are living your best life,” and all he said makes sense now.

During that era, it was not popular to see men tapping into women’s sport. Why did you choose to support women’s sport from an early age?

I was raised by a single mother and also have a twin sister who believed in me so much. That made me have a soft spot for women. Apart from that, I think it was author John C Maxwell who said do what others are not willing to do. During that time there was not much coverage on women’s sport and I got to profile the likes of Precious Mthembu, Zinhle Ndawonde, Khwezi Duma, Bongiwe Msomi, Puseletso Dladla and many others way before they achieved the level of success they are in now. I look at them and I feel proud to have contributed in saying to people they must look out for them in the future.

What have been some of the challenges that you have faced over the years as you fight for a space for women and young girls to thrive in the sports industry?

As you know that women’s sport was not considered professional so you had to really give it your best to convince the editor why they should publish your article. Apart from that, on the coaching view I had to make sure that I am disciplined and win over the parents’ trust as I was working with their children. I am a happy to see the number of ladies who are in strategic positions and running the shots in sports.

There is a handful of men who are in women’s sport. In your opinion, do you think we will see more men getting involved in the future?

Most definitely! The fatherly role is important in a girl-child’s and more girls appreciate that comfort of being safe and protected.

What do you think of the current state of women’s sport in South Africa as compared to the rest of the world?

“What makes me proud is that ladies are making things happen with the little resources and funds they get. That will soon send a message to sponsors that this is the right place to invest in as the returns are magical.” – Ntuli chats about the current state of women’s sport in the country.

I think we are slowly getting there, and I think the right people are slowly coming in on board. What makes me proud is that ladies are making things happen with the little resources and funds they get. That will soon send a message to sponsors that this is the right place to invest in as the returns are magical. I think if you are looking for sports inspiration in South Africa you look at women’s sports and what they are doing globally.

What do you think has been our downfall?

Politics!

How are you continuing to play your part to uplift women’s sport?

I am involved in a golf program where I teach children in my community and also still work as a sports mental coach.

How is it being a father to a promising and young female tennis player?

Watching her grow into the sport has been humbling. To watch her fight and sweat on the tennis court is humbling and being there to support her has been a blessing to me. To think she has already attended training camps outside the province by one of the national coaches makes me proud of her.

What state would you like to see women’s sport in the next five years?

Professional women’s leagues and more brand endorsements. I am proud of how Amanda Dlamini has turned out since we did her Jockey endorsement deal years back and today has a solid brand.

As a former gsport Volunteer of the Year recipient, what are your thoughts on the growth of the initiative? We have launched two new categories – African Woman and Global Woman in Sport Awards for this year’s edition…

I follow gsport4girls all the time and the amount of work done is amazing. I know how much the founders have sacrificed to get it to this level and I pray it gets bigger and bigger. What also touched me was the opportunities provided to young aspiring writers and I just want to say those who have taking the chance, run with it as it will open massive opportunities to you.

Personally, what are you still planning to achieve in your career as a writer, entrepreneur and women’s sport activist?

Personally, I would like to grow the LN watch brand to international level as we had started, to continue writing more books and lastly to provide motivation and help our athletes to cope mentally, especially the black athletes.

 

 

Photo 1 Caption: July has been marked as Men’s Month and we have decided to shine the spotlight on the incredible male figures who continue to play their part in uplifting women’s sport in South Africa. To kick start our series, we reflect on the journey of 2009 gsport Volunteer of the Year, Lunga Ntuli, who started championing women’s sport as a teenager and helped put many current champions on the map. Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: “Watching her grow into the sport has been humbling. To watch her fight and sweat on the tennis court is humbling and being there to support her has been a blessing to me. To think she has already attended training camps outside the province by one of the national coaches makes me proud of her.” Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: The entrepreneur who owns the LN Watches brand hopes that in future women will be taken seriously as he chats to Celine Abrahams. Ntuli also talks about being a girl-dad. Photo: Supplied

Photo 4 Caption: “The fatherly role is important in a girl-child’s and more girls appreciate that comfort of being safe and protected.” Photo: Supplied

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