Futaa.com’s football journalist, Lee-Ann Mpofu, is steadily building a credible portfolio of work and is determined to lead the way for women football journalist.
Hard work paid off last August, when Mpofu rose up to win the Woman in Social Media Award at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards ceremony.
Miss Lee, as she is known in football circles, has found herself cemented in a male-dominated space where she has had to fight off doubting Thomases to prove her abilities.
It is still common in this day and age for women in sport have to work harder than their male counterparts to be taken seriously, but Mpofu is hoping to play her part to change the face of the game for future women football journalists.
She believes that it is important for women in sport to stand together to rise above the challenges that we continue to face to achieve success.
Mpofu is also looking to broaden her horizons as she has invested into her LA Dosage blog where she has managed to interview both local and international players and coaches.
She hopes to one day use her experience to work in broadcasting and in the Premier League as she believes that the world is her oyster and anything that she sets her mind to, she can achieve.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, Mpofu chats about how winning the gsport Award has encouraged her to take her career to the next level and she shares advice to young girls who dream of making it in the sport industry.
Lee, we are facing uncertain times with COVID-19, how are you managing coming up with content to stay on top of your game?
To be honest, it’s been very difficult because obviously sport is our daily bread, and that’s what keeps us going, but it hasn’t been too bad. At least I’ve been managing to do the 12 articles a day that I’m expected to produce, and it’s just pretty much been looking at, you know, different angles than my usual content.
So, it’s pretty much been looking at, you know, low-key players. Some youngsters that are not known yet, and I just pretty much try and do something there, in hope that the fans will be interested, seeing that there’s not much that they can really read, because right now, it’s just transfer rumours, and you know, all sorts, to keep the site going. But, so far, it’s been manageable.
How are you taking care of yourself to make sure that you are mentally and physically stable?
Funny enough, this lockdown has brought another side to me of being slightly motivated to do my workouts, which I do my home workouts every morning. Maybe I skip once a day in the week, depending on how I feel, but I’ve been trying to keep fit, you know, doing squats, doing lunges, skipping, squats and all that, just to keep going, and I must say that it’s helped me a great deal with, you know, mentally …Just feeling a bit more refreshed a bit more energy to get going, and the fact that I’ve got a desk going now, at home. So, it’s giving me that, that office feel, so that I don’t feel lazy, and then end up just sitting on the couch, and losing motivation. Even though it is very, very difficult at this point in time, but I must say, doing my home workouts has done me a great deal.
Are you using this period to reflect on your career thus far? If so, how are you planning on using what you have learnt to plan for the future?
Um, to be honest, every day is different. Some days, I feel, I feel down, and some days, I feel, you know, energetic and motivated. So, I have had some days where I’ve been thinking about what I want to do, going forward…
“So, it’s a lot of things in the pipeline, but I’m taking each day as it comes, and I’m not going to, you know, flood myself with so much work. I’m taking each day as it comes, as I said, and in hopes that everything will work out and pretty much going with the flow, if that makes sense?” – Football journalist, Lee-Ann Mpofu
I do have a few things in the pipeline, that I’m working on, my blog, the LA Dosage, got some companies that I’m talking to at the moment, to try and set up some collaborations. So, it’s a lot of things in the pipeline, but I’m taking each day as it comes, and I’m not going to, you know, flood myself with so much work. I’m taking each day as it comes, as I said, and in hopes that everything will work out and pretty much going with the flow, if that makes sense?
You find yourself placed within a male-dominated space reporting on men’s football. How has that been for you?
Hmm … This is always the million-dollar question! I have to say it’s been challenging. It’s been difficult, to say the least, because you know, as you start, especially if you are not known, you know: no one knows about you, no one knows your abilities, no one knows what you’re talented in, its, you know, always being questioned… Whatever it is that you produce, even if you make the slightest mistake, you know, it’s always like, “Yeah, you see why we say women cannot be in sport, women know nothing!”
And, but you know, I’ve gotten advice from some top journalists, and I’ve had some great mentors along the way, and I’d always say that if I wasn’t passionate about this industry, I would have quit. And to say at least passion has been something that kept me going, even in the tough times when, you know, my abilities have been questioned, or maybe I’ve hit the writer’s block, or anything that has gone through, you know, the hurdles… I must say the hurdles have kept me going, because I know what I want, and I know where I want to be, and that’s what’s pretty much kept me going. Passion is key. It’s the key, key, ingredient for me, because anything that you do, obviously hard work comes with it, but passion and hard work, for me, has been the perfect recipe.
You are one of the most vocal female journalists in this country. Why do you think that it is so important to stand up for what you believe in, especially in this era where women are fighting to be heard?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t say ‘Vocal’, but (shrugs), I say I try my best, to stand up for what I believe in. I’ve always been, you know, someone who’s always tried to be at the fore-front of, you know, women cementing themselves in spaces that we’ve been told before that we don’t belong, and it hasn’t …,it hasn’t come easy, it’s been a challenging time.
But no matter what happens, no matter the hurdles that I experienced, I don’t stop believing in myself. I don’t stop believing in my fellow women, and what’s been so beautiful to see is that, you know, as times go, things are changing, more women are coming up into the spaces that have been previously dominated by men, and also the fact that us, as women, you know, what I’ve noticed women in sport, how we come together and we’re so supportive of each other, cheering each other on, and I think that’s really, really important that, you know, we are not put up against each other, and, you know, the more we stand together, the more we can achieve, and it’s been really beautiful to see, and I hope that I can still carry this on, and I hope that, you know, all of us, as we grow in our careers, in whatever aspect of our career.
Last year you reached an important milestone in your career winning the Woman in Social Media award at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards. What was that moment like for you?
(Laughs) Yeah, that was, uh, I still get goosebumps, because, you know, my award right now, is sitting in my lounge, and it’s a constant reminder that, oh, wow, I really did this, and you know, for me, at that time, you know, this is the second time being nominated …The first time in the same category, was in 2016, and for me, I was just grateful to have been nominated again, and you know, it’s sort of gave me that source of inspiration, and motivation that, you know, people are looking at my work, people are appreciating what I’m doing, and I wasn’t expecting to win, and when I did win, you know, I had a moment where, when my name was mentioned, I zoned out to bit, you know, and I don’t even remember my speech!
“It just means that I’ve won this Award, that I need to keep on working hard, keep on pushing to break down barriers, until I get to the point where I’ve reached where I want to be.” – Mpofu speaks on winning the Woman in Social Media Award at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards.
But I, I’m so grateful for, you know, my family’s support, my close friends, my industry colleagues, you know, even people on social media who have rooted for me. It’s, it’s been so special, and you know, it doesn’t mean that I have to sit back. It just means that I’ve won this Award, that I need to keep on working hard, keep on pushing to break down barriers, until I get to the point where I’ve reached where I want to be… And even then, it doesn’t mean that the work stops. You just have to keep going, especially, you know, in this area.
How has winning the award encouraged you to take your career to the next level?
Um, I think, to an extent, you know, there’s obviously hurdles here and there, every single day, but it’s motivated me to, to challenge myself, and to approach, you know, circles that I’ve been often so felt intimidated by. It sort of gives me, like I said, before, a source of inspiration and motivation to say, “Hey, maybe let me approach those guys, that I’ve always wanted to work for!” Because winning this Award shows that I am doing something right, that I am on the right path, and, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I’m taking it one day as it comes, and I’ll for sure, you know, work where I want to work one day.
But, I’m grateful for the circles that I’m in now, I’m grateful for the job that I have now. And I always say one thing to myself, that I will, I’m a student of the game, and I’ll always be a student of the game. I allow myself, you know, to make mistakes and learn from them, and I allow myself, you know, constructive criticism, so that I can be better, because I can only be better from here on, and I appreciate, you know, the criticism that comes along the way, and it’s helped me a great deal! And I’m also appreciative of my mentors that I have in the industry, you know, those have been there for, for a long time, who know, you know, the ins and outs, and who will help me, and I’m truly grateful for that!
With the experience that you’ve gained over the years, what advice would you give to young girls who dream of making it in the sport industry?
(Smiles) Yeah, that’s a tough one! Because I always say, no person is the same as another, we all have done things differently, and, you know … But one thing I will say, is that it will not be easy! There will be challenges. There’ll be hurdles. There will be all sorts. There will be moments where you question yourself, if you really should be in this. Because it’s happened to me, and it’s going to give you moments, sleepless nights … But I always say, if you’re passionate, that’s what keeps you going, you know, knowing that “I’m passionate about this. I know what I want!”, and you’ll do everything it takes to go forward.
And another thing I’ll say is, find yourself a mentor, so that you can learn the ins and outs of that specific field, that you want to specialise in, whether it’s in broadcasting, you know, TV, radio, whether it’s writing, whatever it is that you want to do: Find yourself a mentor so that you can have, you know, better understanding, you know, and I think that’s what helped me a lot, knowing that, okay, having this mentor showed me the ins and outs of everything, and I sort of had a head start to where I wanted to go, and never be afraid to ask questions. No question is stupid. We all are students of the game. Always keep pushing yourself to learn, you know, never sit back, even if you’ve achieved success!
What are you still hoping to achieve in your career?
(Laughs) Uh …Lots! Maybe work for FIFA! (laughs) I don’t know, the world is, is my oyster! I guess …I want to still achieve a lot, you know, work for, for big publications, you know, maybe have try at TV, or anything, wherever the wind takes me in the moment. I want to you know, keep working hard, keep pushing myself and, you know, I always say for every 10 ‘No’s, that next will be a ‘Yes’. So, I just try and keep myself going, and maybe I’ll be in the Premier League work! Maybe I work La Liga, maybe I’ll be in the PSL, wherever the wind will take me. I am just grateful for the lessons along the way.
Photo 1 Caption: Futaa.com’s football journalist, Lee-Ann Mpofu, is steadily building a credible portfolio which saw her rise up to winning the Woman in Social Media Award at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards ceremony. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 Caption: Miss Lee, as she is known in football circles, has found herself cemented in a male-dominated space where she’s had to fight off doubting Thomases to prove her abilities. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: It is still common in this day and age for women in sport who find themselves working in this area having to work harder than their male counterparts to have their work taken seriously, but Mpofu is hoping to play her part to change the face of the game for future female football enthusiasts. Photo: Supplied
Photo 4 Caption: She believes that it is important for women in sport to stand together to rise above the challenges that we continue to face to achieve success. Photo: Supplied
Photo 5 Caption: Mpofu is also looking to broaden her horizons as she has invested into her LA Dosage blog where she has managed to interview both local and international players and coaches. Photo: Supplied