#PowerOfRecognition: Norika Naidoo

2022 Momentum gsport Awards Woman in Social Media finalist Norika Naidoo has been making waves in sport, as she has been at the prestigious FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. 

Naidoo, who is committed to attending sporting events across the globe, ensured that her dream of taking her online initiative, The Bench SA, to this year’s edition became a reality.

Her determination is admirable and it has been great to see Naidoo living her dream on the big stage, shining the spotlight on women’s sport on the highest level.

In this interview, Naidoo chats to gsport Intern Asanda Shozi about her Momentum gsport Awards experience and her wish for women’s sport.

Norika, thank you so much for chatting to us! In 2022, you were a finalist in the Woman in Social Media category, why do you think the Power of Recognition is important?

I think recognition is just important because it validates athletes and people within those spaces that they’re on the right path. The more recognition we give people, the more validation they get as individuals and in their sport, which grows the sport. 

So, I think recognition directly correlates to better sponsorship, better viewership and better improvement of the game – the more people who are invested in the game, any sporting code you’ll tend to see that the performance and the level of performance will improve – I do think that the power of recognition is important.

As someone who is on social media and known within the sport industry, how do you handle the spotlight?

I don’t think that I am really in the spotlight a lot. We run The Bench South Africa, I run it with my brother, someone who I obviously grew up with and I know that us shooting our YouTube and our Podcast makes it easy. 

It was really difficult last year when I… not difficult, but I struggled a bit last year when I went to the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and I was low-key trending on the social media pages, different social media platforms as one of the few if not only supporters in the stands last year. So, I’m not really good in the spotlight. I do have a really good base with friends and family who are very supportive and I do think that the people that I interact with on social media platforms and in real life are really sweet and good people. 

Again I don’t really think of myself as someone who’s ever in the spotlight, I’m definitely just a fangirl. I see people, athletes and I fan them, they’re definitely in the spotlight more than me.

What was the best part of your Momentum gsport Awards experience? 

I think the best part of the entire experience was just being nominated. I was surprised that I got a nomination for the work that we do on The Bench South Africa. I didn’t realise that people had an invested interest in the work that we’re doing and it’s just really great that the work we’re doing is being seen, not that that’s the reason why we do The Bench South Africa.

What is your advice to someone who is perhaps struggling to value themselves and recognize their own achievements?

This is a very difficult question because personally I do think I myself still struggle with recognising my own achievements within this sporting sphere but just in life in general. I think the best advice I can give to anyone is to just keep going. Even if you doubt yourself, even if the people around you are doubting you, you just need to keep moving forward. Eventually you’ll take enough steps forward and hopefully get to a place where your achievements and the success of your achievements are bigger and louder than your doubts.

What are your thoughts on the Year of Women’s Sport and the spotlight on women’s sport in 2023?

I think it was long coming and I really do enjoy it and I appreciate the fact that there is a bigger effort globally, specifically in 2023 to put women and women in sport first.

What are your views on the impact of the work gsport does?

Within the South African context I think it’s amazing, growing up finding information about female athletes, our women’s national teams across sporting codes has already been difficult and I think gsport has worked really hard to put themselves in a position to make it accessible. To make information around women in sport accessible and to give visibility to women in sport which I think it’s something that was long coming. And gsport did it without waiting for mainstream and the big media houses to start doing that work, they did it on their own account. I think their exponential growth over the years is proof that they’ve put in the work and it’s worth it.

What can we do to close the visibility gap in women’s sport?

I think we just need to continue to do what we’re currently doing. We need to push boundaries. We need to challenge corporate South Africa, the corporate world, media houses to give women the chance to succeed and not put us on the back burner because the male counterparts are playing or we find it of bigger value. I think there’s money in women’s sport and our role is to continue with what we’re doing already to push it forward to increase visibility and recognition.

Lastly, what is your wish for women’s sport?

Personally, I want women’s sport to super-seed men’s sport. And I definitely think that it is possible so, I just think that the athletes and organisations and the people involved in these organisations should continue moving forward and growing their respective codes and we will get to a point where women’s sport is bigger than men’s sport.

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