Award-winning sport journalist, Mpumi Manyisi, is making huge strides in her broadcasting career as she aims to become an executive producer to elevate women’s sport stories.
Manyisi recently walked away with the Sport Journalist of the Year accolade at the Gauteng Sport Awards for her outstanding contribution in the sport industry.
Growing up, Manyisi was the only girl surrounded by two brothers and a family who loved sport, eventually she fell in love with game.
In 2010, her journey as a sport journalist began in community radio ahead of the FIFA World Cup, where she auditioned and was selected for a post a sport presenter at Jozi FM.
Manyisi moved on to become a writer and content producer at Massiv Metro where she worked alongside the likes of former footballers Jabu Mahlangu, Mark Fish and award-winning sport broadcaster, Motshidisi Mohono.
Despite being in a male-dominated industry, Manyisi believes one must focus on what they can offer rather than trying to compete or impress fellow male journalists.
Speaking with Faheedah Crouch, Manyisi reveals how she emerged into the media space and shares advice to those who want to venture into the sport media space.
Firstly, congratulations on winning the Gauteng Sport Journalist of the Year award! Please can you tell us about yourself?
Mpumi Manyisi is a professional media practitioner and a multi-award-winning Sports Journalist, she’s a Boston Media House Graduate – holds a Special Major in Journalism. I’m currently employed at Soweto TV as a Sports Journalist, I’m also a Freelance Football Writer and a Content Creator. I run a media relations company called Exodus Media Works – it mainly focuses on digital marketing in relation to sports media.
What did it mean to you to have picked up such a prestigious award?
It really meant the world to me to receive the 2021 Gauteng Sports Journalist of the Year accolade, but for me, I dedicate it to all community media journos who work tirelessly to tell sport stories from the ground up (meaning from grassroots to professional level). Because they take it upon themselves to share stories about sports personnel from the days when they are starting out in their careers, and that’s mostly when no one is really interested in them, that’s just where we come in as community media.
For me it is a great pleasure to be in that space, hence I dedicate this award to all community media journos and encourage them to never give up and to immensely invest in their career – in due course the fruits of their labour will materialise.
Where does your love for sport come from?
So, I’m the only female at home amongst two of my siblings. Both my brothers and cousins are sport fanatics, one heavily into football and the other into cricket. Growing up I was forced to watch the games, and it became a situation of – ‘if you can’t beat them join them’, I eventually did. I then started asking questions about the rules of the games, to get a clear understanding of the two sporting codes – so that I don’t get bored while watching with them. I guess that’s where my love for sports started, and I’ve never looked back ever since.
How did your journey as a sports journalist begin?
My journey as a sport journalist began at a community radio station in Soweto (Jozi FM), they were in search of a Sports Presenter in 2010, in a quest to grow their team for a build-up ahead of the FIFA World Cup during that year – I auditioned and got selected for the post. I worked there for a while and eventually left the job to pursue my studies.
Along the way I then joined Soweto TV, worked there as a content producer, and eventually left to return to the sport broadcasting scene around 2017, this is when I joined Massiv Metro. I worked as a sportswriter and content producer at Massiv Metro, alongside industry greats such Christophe Bongo, Tumi Kgasoe, Motshidisi Mohono, Itumeleng Banda, Mark Fish, and Jabu Mahlangu.
A team that basically led a popular online football show called Massiv XI, these are individuals I fed from as far as sport journalism is concerned – they taught me a lot regarding the fundamental requirements and the demands of sport journalism, I’ve gained great experience being a part of that show, and I still apply some of the lessons learned from being a part of it.
And I’m forever grateful for the opportunity Faith Mangope gave me – to be part of that show (she was at the time the programming manager at Massiv Metro). I did however rejoin Soweto TV in 2019, I form part of the sports desk within the news department.
During your time coming into the industry, what tools do you wish you had?
During my time coming into the industry, I wish I had found myself a mentor earlier when starting out – to sort of guide me through in terms of what was ahead of me. There are a lot of challenges in the sports journalism industry that can easily break you as you come up, but over the years I’ve learnt that it’s important to find a more mature person in the space to alert you of the inevitable within the industry. But I now know better, I now do have great mentors who are leading me.
What is it like being a female journalist in sport codes like football, which is still male-dominated?
It’s very challenging to be in the football journalism space as it is male-dominated. At a certain point, it does become a bit unfair, because it is almost like – as women, we’re not allowed to make honest mistakes and gradually grow within the space, women are always expected to be perfect if not you’re then open to scrutiny.
I say female journos don’t allow it, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourselves trying to compete or impress your male counterparts in the space. Focus on what you know you can offer as a journalist, invest in it wholeheartedly and move at your own pace, next thing you know – you’re one of the most respected in the industry.
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies made history winning the first CAF Women’s Champions League trophy putting the spotlight on women’s football and proving that supporting female athletes can bring home big achievements. That being said, what do you think should be done to move women’s sports to professional level?
Firstly, congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies for bringing us so much joy – returning home with the most prestigious trophy in women’s football. This goes to say now is the time to professionalise women’s football, I call upon big cooperates, the government, club owners, football federations and fans of the beautiful game to join hands in growing women’s football in the country. It may be through offering resources, mental health support or merely through purchasing tickets to watch the games and support women’s football. That’s fundamentally where we can start to showcase our intentions to grow the sport and eventually get it professionalised.
What do you think of gsport and its impact on women’s sport?
According to me, gsport is the ultimate voice of women in sport, the consistency in telling women in sports stories and celebrating top achievers through the Momentum gsport Awards is massive and doesn’t go unnoticed.
What advice would you give to someone who’d like to set foot in the sport media space?
My advice to someone who wants to get into the sport journalism industry is that; they should always be driven by passion and the love for sport in general. It is an industry that demands hard work and consistency because in the space you’re only as good as your last offering and you cannot afford to drop the ball.
What is the next step for you in your career?
What’s next for me in my career; I want to be an executive producer; I want to produce online and television shows that cover a variety of content including women’s football.
Photo 1 Caption: Soweto TV Sports Journalist, Mpumi Manyisi, is making huge strides in her broadcasting career as she works towards fulfilling her aspiration of becoming an executive producer to elevate women’s sport stories. Photo: Gauteng Province Sport Awards (Twitter)
Photo 2 Caption: Award-winning sport broadcaster, Mpumi Manyisi, pictured at the 2021 Gauteng Sport Awards, where she received the Sport Journalist of the Year accolade. Photo: Mpumi Manyisi (Twitter)