Natalie Germanos, a young South African woman of Lebanese heritage, is a proud member of SABC Radio’s commentary team for Indian national men’s tour of SA, a cricket fan of note, and a fitness fanatic who believes in a healthy life.
Natalie was kind enough to take a little time out from her demanding schedule on the third day of the first Test at Wanderers to speak to gsport about sport, her career in sports media, and life as a coach.
How did you get into cricket commentary?
I’ve always wanted to do it… it’s been a dream of mine, and I actually do fitness training here at Wanderers with Gauteng fitness trainer, Jeff Lunsky, he gave me (international commentator) Lawrence Mahatlane’s number, he gave me the Radio2000 producer’s number to phone, and I was told to come in and look around, to see if things work, and to find out what my background is. That was when Zimbabwe was here a couple of years ago in the ODI’s, and I saw how things work, and how the production went, and the producer pretty much liked me, almost right away, and so it was pretty much a little bit of luck, actually. He phoned me and said I must bring in my CV, and before I’d even done that, they phoned to say “There is a contract available for you, and we need you to do the Ladies’ World Cup and the semi-finals.” So I signed the contract, and that was it!
Are you a cricket player?
Yes, I play a bit of cricket at school, and I played a bit of indoor cricket. I was also in Argentina for about six months, and I coached and played with the ladies there as well.
Is cricket your primary sport?
I’m involved in a lot of other sports, but cricket is my No. 1 sport.
Do you do sports reporting for any other sports?
I don’t do any other reporting, I only do the commentary on cricket, and reports on cricket for SAfm.
How long have you been reporting for SAfm?
I’ve been doing commentary for about a year and a half now, and reporting for SAfm for a year.
Apart from commentary and reporting, what other occupation do you have?
I’ve just finished studying a B.A. Sports Communication, and I coach at a Greek school in Bedfordview called Saheti, and I coach for a tennis academy as well, I coach cricket, tennis, netball, swimming, volley ball, and athletics.
Are you able to make a living out of what you’re doing at the moment?
Specifically the media side, yes obviously, we have seasons which do interrupt, that sort of thing. You can make a living out of it, but I want to get more involved in the journalistic side of it as well, and just start reporting. I’m just trying to settle down into the commentary, get a bit of experience, and then try something else as well, and carry on with the commentary as well, because that’s my first love. Then I’d like to get involved with the journalistic side, write some reports, and that sort of thing.
Is it appropriate for women to be involved in a men’s sports arena?
Absolutely! It’s growing in terms of women watching it, and when you hear a woman’s voice, you automatically relate to it straight away, whether you realise it or not, it’s a subconscious thing. You start thinking, “Oh, I CAN get involved in this, and you start listening a little bit more intently, and you feel like they’re talking to you. That’s how I felt when I heard Kass, it just draws you in a little bit more. You start thinking that a woman can get involved, although it’s still a little, even though it’s still very ‘old-boys-club’, there’s no doubt, and it will be for a while, because we’re only starting to make inroads now for women. Once you start seeing more and more women involved in it, it can’t be bad for the sport, that’s for sure.
We’ve been listening to your radio work recently, and you seem to have made incredible strides recently, you seem relaxed and focused, it seems to be something that you’re uniquely geared towards:
I hope so, I enjoy radio. I’ve thought about going into TV, but I really enjoy radio. It’s the theatre of the mind, as you describe the action and everything. I know people enjoy listening to the radio commentary, it’s great. I owe a lot of my success to my colleagues, Neil Manthorp, Aslam Khota, Zolani Bongco have helped me. And Kass has helped me a lot, she’s been very open, she’s helped me to be a little bit more comfortable. You know, she had to make inroads for all of the other women, and now the rest can follow a little bit easier. I enjoy radio, I enjoy who I work with.
Does SAfm have plans to take you around the country?
As far as I know, not from SAfm side. I have been around a bit with Radio2000, I went on the Zimbabwe tour- that was my first full tour. I’ve been down to Cape Town a couple of times, for the Standard Bank competition for the two finals.
Who are your favourite sports stars?
My favourite sports star is Jacques Kallis, he’s been my idol ever since I first saw him walking out making his debut against England. I just think that there’s something about him that I liked, even though he didn’t do very well at the beginning (laughs). I’ve stuck by him, and he’s been my favourite for ever. I like his temperament, I like how he goes about things, he’s very comfortable out there at the crease, he doesn’t let anything bug him. That’s the sort of thing that people should look up to. The styles of Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher are good, because they’re very positive and motivating, you SEE the emotion, and that’s also exciting. But for me, that sort of frame, that’s what I like to see. He’s basically my favourite sports hero. Also, Roger Federer, same sort of mold, you don’t really see the emotion when you watch him play. He knows when to turn it on, I like that sort of competitiveness.
Female sports star?
My indoor volleyball captain / coach Gadeja Jappie (National and Provincial Indoor Volleyball team member)- not a lot of people would know her, because a lot of people don’t really know (about the sport). Amanda Coetzer was a favourite of mine when she was around, I enjoyed watching her (I’ve watched a lot of tennis). Steffi Graf as well, same sort of mold. I quite enjoy her quiet competitiveness.
Do you still play competitive sport, and what is your favourite fitness activity?
I play indoor club volleyball, and my club is called Quantum. We play out of Randburg (Joburg), and we’re (ranked) number four in the country. It’s very competitive, and we have a lady in our side that plays for the national team. She’s played for the national side for 10 years, so she’s extremely competitive, and is our captain and coach. Our arch-rivals are number one in the country, so it’s our little derby that goes on. I play indoor netball for fun, for a break-away, just to enjoy sport a little bit. I do a lot of fitness training, to keep fit for the volleyball, for which we’ve got to be very fit. I’ve broken away from playing cricket, because I’m so involved in everything else, and you need that sort of a break, otherwise it just becomes a bit of a mind-bomb thing, it just gets a little too much.
Do you engage in fitness training to maintain fitness, or as a job requirement?
It’s to stay in shape, it’s more geared towards the volleyball-side of it, which is very power-orientated, more towards the Plyometrics side (power training, with a focus on acceleration and deceleration training), we do a lot of boxing and rowing, that sort of thing, it’s very intense work with short bursts of energy. In terms of staying fit, you’ve obviously be healthy and that sort of thing, my aim is more towards the healthy side of life. Most of it is geared towards volleyball.
When you need to relax, what do you prefer to do?
I normally go out with my friends, I like to enjoy time with them, maybe go dancing, sometimes we go to clubs, sometimes we just go out for dinner. But the best thing for me is just to get out of Joburg. Even just a drive out of Joburg, you can feel that stress relief, that generally works for me the best. That, and maybe sitting down to read a book. I love to get down to the beach, it doesn’t matter where it is, as long as I’m down at the beach, I’m happy, that’s my thing. To go down to the beach is just the ultimate for me, when we were on the Zimbabwe tour, we went down to East London, that was me, it was just great!
Is it easy to maintain femininity in sport?
It is easy to keep your femininity, because it’s really ingrained in you. There are complete differences between a male and a female, they’re built differently, they think differently, they show things differently, and (women) do keep that female edge to it. Basically, as an overall type of thing, with the kids that we coach, we coach an athlete- and that’s what we look at building, athletes, and not so much a male or a female. Obviously they’ll never play against each other, but we try to build an over-all athlete, so that they can be competitive, with their mind, with their physical-ness, everything that they have in terms of their talent.
What is the thing that makes you most proud to be a South African?
Cricket! Our cricket team makes me very proud, no matter how things are going with them, it makes me very proud. To be a part of that 438 game, and to know that I was a part of that, something that SA achieved, that’s proudly South African to me.
gsport promotes women in sport, what do you think about it?
I have been onto the website, and I’ve been reading the articles the last couple of months, and I think it’s fantastic. Women need that kind of support system, because a lot of people say they want to get involved in sport, they want to get support, but they don’t know how. That’s always the big question, “How”? So gsport has decided to take that little bit of an initiative, and they’ve decided to bring a little bit of support, even if it’s considered to be something a little bit smaller, because it’s not big money. They’ve brought something that’s small, and it’s giving (women in sport) support, and showing people out there that what they’re doing, it’s getting noticed, and they’re getting recognition for it.