Rising sports photographer, Skhu Nkomphela, believes in equal recognition not only for female athletes but for women in society in general. He hopes to play his part by telling their unique stories through his lens.
Growing up, Nkomphela’s mother played a vital role in building a foundation for him to be an independent and responsible man that not only respects her but treats other women with the same respect and dignity. This has led to him continuously fighting for the rights of the opposite gender.
As a vocal young man from Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, Nkomphela does not shy away from voicing his opinions and his incredible work behind the camera led to University Sports South Africa NEC nominating him to serve on the FISU Media and Communication Committee earlier this year.
His growing success has encouraged him to inspire men and everyone around him to do their best in eliminating all forms that seek to disadvantage women.
He has taken the lead to support women through the gsport initiative and the 2020 Momentum gsport Awards which he praises highly for going beyond the borders of South Africa to honour women across the globe.
What more is there to Nkomphela than the man that we see on the sports field? Celine Abrahams finds out!
Skhu, as a supporter of gsport and the 2020 Momentum gsport Awards campaign, what are your thoughts on this year’s finalists and the media coverage which blew through the roof?
Wow, what a breath-taking finalist line-up with incredible women! This year’s campaign was well put together and impressed many people. A highlight for me is the fact that the Momentum gsport Awards have previously been limited to South African women but, gsport has now broadened their criteria to include phenomenal women from Africa and the rest of the globe for the first time this year. Women’s sports coverage has not been spared from the impact of COVID-19. It’s taken its toll on women’s sports in general thanks to lockdown restrictions with women not being able to compete, however it’s not all doom as we’ve seen the spotlight being cast on more women in sports with women dominating in the media space on more news-front pages daily during this lockdown.
As you mention the list is impressive, which made it difficult for voters to choose their favourites during the voting period. Who were you backing?
There were many to choose from but honestly, I supported Nqobile Gama, Itumeleng Banda, Lona Benya and a few others.
With the introduction of the African and Global Woman in Sport Awards categories, what are you hoping to see the Momentum gsport Awards platform provide in the future for women in sport?
“I hope the awards will encourage and inspire others. At the same time, apart from the recognition these awards bring, merely applying and being nominated, brings a multitude of career benefits to these women.” – Sports Photographer, Skhu Nkomphela
In the future I’d like to see the Momentum gsport Awards provide a range of set skills, mentoring and nurture the talents of athletes, more specifically #gsport newcomers, through continuous sustainable programs even after the awards. Additionally, I hope the awards will encourage and inspire others. At the same time, apart from the recognition these awards bring, merely applying and being nominated, brings a multitude of career benefits to these women.
Let us turn our focus to you. How did you get involved in sport? We know that you are a Water Scientist 😊
When I was in high school, I played sports. In my days I was a 200m sprinter but when I got to varsity I re-introduced myself to sports media through my lenses and began associating myself with the people that were in the industry long before me through extensive mentoring and job shadowing and things got better as time went by. I got involved in sports photography when I was young because my uncle was a photographer but at the time, I had no passion for it. My passion for sports photography was sparked when I used to attend games as a fan and wondered how I can get involved in capturing the fleeting moments that turn into the best photos. I then approached Mr Jeffry Adams (Former IOL Photojournalist) at the time and he took me to my first match, since then I never stopped!
You are always fighting for women’s rights, why do you think it is so important for you to stand up for the ladies?
I’m a big believer in gender equality and equal recognition not only when it comes to women athletes but in general and my desire for women’s sports is rooted in the desire for equality in sports. I believe it’s important to stand up for the ladies and be a catalyst for change, challenging organizations/federations that continuously disadvantage women from time to time while remaining committed to the success of these young women and amplifying their voices in contexts they aren’t usually heard.
There is a handful of men who champion women’s sport, do you draw inspiration from them?
I draw inspiration from myself.
Please tell us how your mom played a vital role in moulding you into the man you are today.
“Throughout my schooling and sporting journey, my mom would regularly discuss some of my challenges in my university and work industry, and as the years continued, my successes slowly outpaced my failures and she was there to witness it all.” – Nkomphela on his mother’s role in his life.
This question never fails to move me as I struggle and strive to live for the things that truly matter and one of them is the role my mom played and still plays in my life. She is one person who has always been there for me since day one. Throughout my schooling and sporting journey, my mom would regularly discuss some of my challenges in my university and work industry, and as the years continued, my successes slowly outpaced my failures and she was there to witness it all. While she tried to lead me towards responsible manhood for my entire life, the bar was raised abruptly early this year when I was nominated by USSA NEC to serve on the FISU Media and Communication Committee.
Would you say having your mom and seeing the strides that she had to go through pushed you to make sure that women are taken care of?
Most definitely! My mom laid a solid foundation for who I am today – and for that, I’ll always be thankful to my mom and for the continued support she gives me and for raising me to be an independent and responsible man that not only respects her but treats other women with respect and dignity.
What are some of the women’s sport struggles that you are hoping to play your part in changing in the future?
Well personally, my advocacy for women’s sports stems from unequal pay, unequal recognition, unequal treatment, and lack of support from media, sponsors, and the public. These three struggles always come as no great surprise in the sporting fraternity. I will play my part in making sure I tell the stories of women in sport through my lens.
What are some of your greatest ambitions?
My greatest ambition is to become a person that encourages men and everyone around me to do their best in eliminating all forms that seek to disadvantage women.
Photo 1 Caption: Rising sports photographer, Skhu Nkomphela, believes in equal recognition not only for female athletes but for women in society in general. He hopes to play his part by telling their unique stories through his lens. Photo: Supplied