Nicole Kente: “Sometimes You’ll Have to Fight for Your Place”

eNCA Sport Presenter Nicole Kente chats to gsport’s Oarabile Diphoko about overcoming challenges and paving the way for women in the sport industry. Image: Supplied

eNCA Sport Presenter Nicole Kente, found her voice at the age of 19, whilst working at a call centre.

In 2013, Kente wrapped up her career at Alexander Forbes Financial Services as a Training Facilitator and Quality Assurer.

She was also the youngest and one of only four black women elected to the first Alexander Forbes Junior Board, a board that worked directly with the Executive Board, to drive innovation through the organization.

In 2016, she made a bold move into sport, where she joined the Centurion based club, the Momentum Multiply Titans.

Speaking with Oarabile Diphoko, the Ambassador of the Fidelity Titans Women’s team, talks about her life in the corporate environment, making the move into sport and becoming a Jaguar Land Rover Centurion Ambassador.

 

Nicole, thank you for chatting to gsport. For those that do not know who Nicole Kente is, what can you tell them?

Nicole Kente is a sportscaster, MC and voice-over artist. She is originally from the Western Cape and loves her siblings.

 

When did you realize that you wanted your career to be in sport because when you first started working at 19 years old, you worked at a call centre?

I didn’t realize this initially. I was the kid who was unsure of what she wanted to do and become.

Funnily enough, I absolutely loved Cynthia Tshaka growing up, I still do. She was the one female on television at the time that I absolutely admired. Her along with Peggy Sue Khumalo, I was just drawn to them.

I was eight or ten years old when I watched the match where Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear and at the time, I just watched the match because my step dad was watching.

I also played netball, tennis, hockey and chess growing up. I guess I should have known then, because my life after that slowly but surely led to sport.

 

In 2018 you hosted the launch of the Tshwane Spartans at the Mzansi Super League and in 2019; you had the honour of hosting the Northerns Cricket Union Awards. What did this mean for you and your career?

The Tshwane Spartans launch meant the world to me because it was the inaugural Mzansi Super League. Northerns Cricket Union had also just elected their first ever Black President, Mr. Tebogo Siko. On top of that, the panel was former Proteas Head Coach, Mark Boucher, current Titans Cricket Head Coach, Mandla Mashimbyi, former Proteas batter AB de Villiers and the President. There was no way I wasn’t going to take the opportunity to be in discussion with a panel of that caliber. It was a huge learning curve and an experience I am forever grateful for. I was nervous going into that, Pierre Joubert, former Titans Cricket player, now their Commercial Manager, made me a cup of tea and I sat on the couch in his office, and he told me to be calm and that I’ve got it. I will never forget.

The NCU awards – I actually always wanted to do, so I was quite stoked when they asked me.

What this means for one’s career is then receiving more of these opportunities and exposure is priceless. I was blessed to co-host the TUT Prestige Sport Awards alongside a woman that I have great respect for, Ms. Tumi Kgasoe in 2021, hosted the annual Titans Cricket awards in 2022 as well as the Lazarus Motor Company 65th Anniversary breakfast end 2022.

 

In 2022, it was announced that you are the new Jaguar Land Rover Centurion Ambassador. Tell us how that deal came about and what it entails?

It took a few months. I met with the owner, Colin Lazarus, their CFO, Ross Lazarus and one of the Jaguar Land Rover Centurion Directors, Craig Rohland. As an ambassador one needs to promote the brand and ensure that it is viewed in a positive light. You have to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics.

Land Rover vehicles have that “rugged” feel as they’re made for off-road, but the elegance and luxury of the vehicle is maintained and therefore there is a certain level of class associated with the brand. Having said, they make it easy to be associated with their brand, because they run their administration with the same level of class that they design their vehicles with. It feels like a family, you’re not just a number walking into a dealership.

 

You have been in the industry for a period of time now and we know it is not always easy being a woman in sport. What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome so far?

One of the biggest is that people assume women are just pretty and that we know nothing about sport. Not only do they assume this, but they comment on how you look on air, be it my face, the clothes that I am wearing, etc. And not just me, I have seen this with other female anchors as well. I have never heard of this with my male colleagues, people talk about the actual interview, not their clothes.

 

What are some of your career highlights to date?

Oh wow! There are a few and I hope I don’t miss any.

Totally unrelated to sport, I was elected the youngest (I was 24 at the time) of only three black women on the first ever Alexander Forbes Junior Board.

My time working at Titans Cricket was also a memorable one.

 

What advice can you give young girls looking to break into the sport industry?

Never take the option of the easier way out because the easier way is not worth what needs to be sacrificed. Work hard, always, even when people don’t recognize you. Sometimes you’ll have to fight for your place, do it and even when you fall (because you will) get up and continue fighting. In doing so be kind always.

 

2023 is The Year of Women’s Sport. What do you think this means for the growth of the women’s game in South Africa?

It’s big! It shows that women can equally (if not more) be recognized on an international platform.

 

What does the future hold for Nicole Kente?

Watch this space!

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