#PowerOfRecognition: Leila Steyn-Daku

Leila Steyn-Daku’s trailblazing journey reached new heights as she became the first black female from South Africa, and the first female from Cricket SA to permanently join the ICC. Photo: Leila Steyn-Daku (Instagram)

We are on the brink of experiencing the magnificence of the 2023 Momentum gsport Awards, while the captivating #PowerOfRecognition series continues to captivate our attention. 

In this edition, we shine the spotlight Leila Steyn-Daku, a remarkable first-time finalist in the Global Woman in Sport category.

Daku’s groundbreaking path has soared to unprecedented levels as she broke new ground becoming the black female representative from South Africa and woman from Cricket South Africa to secure a permanent position within the International Cricket Council.

Engaging in a conversation with Lungile Matsuma on the gsport’s X-Space platform, Daku delves into the profound influence of recognition in her journey.

First up, congratulations on being a finalist for the Momentum gsport Awards, how did you feel when you received the news?

It was quite a remarkable and overwhelming feeling to be recognised and it might sound cliché to some, but that’s the power of recognition, it just overwhelms you. And to be recognised on such a massive platform and by so many other women was just overwhelming. There were just so many tears, my husband actually came running to me asking me what’s wrong and it took me quite some time to get the words out, I just showed him the phone and showed him the message but it has just been unbelievable waves of emotion.

Receiving recognition for your hard work and dedication must be such a special moment, what does this recognition mean to you?

It’s massive, absolutely massive. The power of recognition is so personal for me, I’m a firm believer that you can’t be what you can’t see and to be recognised by women who look like me, who sound like me, who act like me, who do what I do has just been phenomenal. It’s personal that for me to be recognised as a woman in sport and a woman of my calibre is massive for my daughter, for her to see that women like her, women like her mom get recognised is massive. It’s true that you never know who’s watching. So to be recognised within my field, being based abroad by fellow peers and women back home is just phenomenal and it also lays the foundation for everyone that will come after me, be it my daughter or any other woman from CapeTown, from Johannesburg, from Durban, from South Africa and let alone from Dubai, you never know who you’re inspiring cause you never know who’s watching.

The Momentum gsport Awards platform plays such a crucial role in shining the spotlight on women in sport, what are your thoughts on the platform and its impact on promoting women’s achievements in the sporting realm?

I think it’s massive because it’s all about investment right,  and I do recall the other day where a CFO said to a CEO “what if we invest in our people and they leave us?” to which the CEO replied “but what if we don’t invest in them and they stay?” so it’s so vital that there’s platforms like gsport that invest in us as women and because of the massive platform that gsport is, corporates have all want to be a part of it and because gsport invests in us, naturally corporates invest in us and the companies and organisations that we represent invest in us. I can go on and on about the importance of it. I think what’s important is how we take it forward and how we pay it forward for those that are coming after us and how we continue to use the gsport platform to elevate ourselves and elevate all the women that are around us.

South Africa hosted a very successful ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, how did you enjoy working on that global showpiece?

It was stunning, it was obviously nice to be back home but it was filled with proper 360 moments for me. Being back home, eventing back home and actually working on the final at Newlands because that’s where my career started back in 2007, so it was quite massive for me. Besides that, to see the stadium filled and to see South Africa supporting women’s cricket was just unbelievable. The love that the Proteas Women received was massive. People were talking about and still talk about it now back in the office as well, it was just massive.

From a commercial point of view I know that it opened a lot of commercial doors for Cricket South Africa in terms of the Proteas Women. It also globally made the world see that women’s sport is here. It was just unbelievable in many ways and to work on it was massive, it was hard work but it was definitely worthwhile.

What advice do you have for South Africas who want to go global?

All I can say is keep knocking, keep knocking on doors eventually somebody is going to open. I think I bombarded the ICC for many years, I made myself available for internships. Keep knocking on doors, keep messaging people, keep emailing people, keep reaching out and keep doing what you do. Something has got to give and that’s exactly how I got here. I’ve always said before that my social media is always open for females who want to go global in sport or just have general questions around what I do or what they want to do, always open to that, to pay forward.

Photo 1 Caption: Leila Steyn-Daku’s trailblazing journey reached new heights as she became the first black female from South Africa, and the first female from Cricket SA to permanently join the ICC. Photo: Leila Steyn-Daku (Instagram)

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