Top Sports Broadcaster, Natalie Germanos, is one of the pioneers for women in cricket and is regarded as one of South Africa’s top commentators.
Her knowledge of the game has afforded her opportunities to work beyond the borders of South Africa and recently, she featured in the broadcasting team at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
gsport’s Celine Abrahams caught up with Germanos as she chats about being part of a spectacular tournament that grabbed global acclaim and continuing to champion women’s sport.
The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup certainly grabbed the world’s attention as we witnessed a record-breaking crowd in attendance for the final match between Australia and India. What did it mean for you to find yourself involved in this tournament that had received so much support globally?
It’s tough to put into words what it meant to me. I wasn’t working in the final, so I had the opportunity to sit with friends and watch the final unfold. I was in tears many times over as I knew the day represented a shift in the women’s game, a very significant shift.
Being part of the tournament is one of the ultimate highlights of my career. It’s a privilege to do this job but to be involved in the women’s game working with so many incredible people on a very special tournament takes it all to another level. It’s a World Cup I will look back on with only fond memories.
With the incredible number of spectators showing their support, what was the atmosphere like at the matches?
The final was obviously incredible. The crowd was 100 percent invested in the game and the occasion. The other matches had record crowds for women’s cricket in Australia, too. Which is amazing as Australia has always been ahead with regards to crowd attendance.
Every team had their supporters and by the end of the tournament teams’ support had grown, especially for the Thailand team. They won the hearts of the spectators.
Spectators were very knowledgeable, and a wonderful family atmosphere was created at all the games. Lots of young boys and girls getting to know the game and the individual stars. It was a great opportunity for the youngsters to get close to their heroes and discover new heroes.
With the competition grabbing global attention, what do you think this will mean for the future of women’s cricket going forward for all countries involved?
Investment in development. That for me must be the primary goal and I feel we should be seeing more of that. The reality is we live in a world where profit is important and after this tournament, I believe many will realise the potential of the women’s game and the commercial viability.
I would like to see investment in developing a strong base of quality cricketers at domestic and school levels around the world and the knock-on effect of this tournament will hopefully be just that.
When you look at the Momentum Proteas team progressing to the semi-final round, what did you think of the performance of the players and the way that they were able to make their presence felt, especially in the group stage round?
This team has been working and developing their game for a long time. Their performance at the World Cup was not a surprise. It has been years of hard work coming together.
Having watched the team play over the years what impressed the most for me was their belief in their potential. They have always been a talented group of players. But in my opinion one thing that was lacking was the belief that they are in fact one of the strongest teams in world cricket. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that this team can win an ICC trophy. And this time around they showed that.
Taking on the best side in the world right down to the wire in a semi-final was special but also just showcased how good the Proteas team is. A few more things going their way and it easily could have been a South Africa v India final.
It was great to see the individual development of the players like Laura Wolvaardt who has worked tirelessly at her game and the results showed. Also, it was wonderful to see young players like Nadine de Klerk and Nonkululeko Mlaba standing up and taking their chances when given.
Tactically South Africa were brilliant. They were led by a captain that is growing into one of the best captains in the game currently. Dané van Niekerk was excellent in her leadership during the tournament.
Going forward, what areas do you think need to be polished in the team?
I would probably say fitness and fielding. And when I say this it’s about taking it to the next level. Australia have set a very high benchmark and every team around the world should aspire to be that. Australia were not playing their absolute best cricket through the group stages but their fitness and discipline in the field got them through.
Looking specifically at this tournament the batters need to find a way to capitalise on the first six overs, the powerplay. The batters were brilliant in the last five overs, scoring the quickest out of all teams. But they were one of the slowest in the first 6. So, the team needs to find some sort of balance in order to get a little more from the first six overs.
When we look at women’s cricket and the journey to gender equality in terms of professional contracts and pay, it is better than what it used to be, however, why do you think that it is still an issue even though it has been proven that the women’s side of the game is also a crowd puller?
There is still a lot of things that need to change. If we are talking equality, then for me these are just a few issues that need to change:
- Domestic contracts – domestic players must be paid to increase the depth of the game,
- Pitch quality – consistently better pitches mean more runs, closer contests, and the development of pace bowlers,
- Promotion of the individual stars,
- A celebration of the history of the game and the legends that played when very few people could watch the game,
- All internationals should be televised, streamed or covered by radio. It would be even better of the same was done for the domestic T20 leagues,
- More promotion of the women working off the field – coaches, umpires, match officials, administrators etc,
- A women’s IPL.
Do you think that we are still far off from seeing equality when it comes to women’s sport in general?
Unfortunately, yes. There are so many obstacles right now and one of those major obstacles is changing people’s perceptions of women’s sport. That isn’t an easy goal to achieve. It takes times, work and investment. But I do believe we are on that path, even though the path is a long and tough one, we are on the right one.
It’s a long road ahead still. I feel the female athletes are doing their bit and have always been doing their bit. It’s now up to the rest of us.
If you had the opportunity to encourage corporates to back women’s sport more, what would your message be to them?
You can’t be what you can’t see. I was told this a couple of years back. And it’s so true. Young girls cannot be elite athletes and aspire to sports stars if they cannot see it happening before them. They need people to look up to. We already have many incredible female athletes, lets ensure we have a future filled with more.
I would tell them to find ways to invest in women’s sport now and the future athletes will then reward you. There will always be return on investment. Let the future stars see today’s stars and this can be done in many ways. It will be worth it.
Having spent years championing women’s sport, what advice do you have for a young girl who is looking to follow in your footsteps?
My advice would be to first believe that anything is possible. Believe in yourself and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. But also, work hard. It’s not an easy road no matter your circumstances. Its jam-packed with pressure and you will feel that pretty much every day. You must learn to deal with it.
Also, get a mentor. I cannot stress this enough. Not only will they teach you things, but they will be there for you when needed. Own your space. You deserve to have a voice and space in whatever job you choose to pursue.
Photo 1 Caption: Trailblazer Natalie Germanos joined Radio2000 in 2005 at the tender age of 24-years-old. Germanos then became the voice of cricket on South African radio and later branched out into commentating other sports and joined broadcasting. Photo: SABC Sport
Photo 2 Caption: South African Sports Broadcaster, Natalie Germanos, pictures at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia. Photo: Natalie Germanos
Photo 3 Caption: Natalie Germanos hopes that in future there will be more investment women’s sport and she encourages young girls believe in themselves as many look to make their mark in sport. Photo: Natalie Germanos