Thato Moeng, the woman whose name is synonymous with radio sports presenting and broadcasting, has a dream of owning a football club one day.
Moeng has been part of the sports industry for more than a decade and has broken down barriers as she aims to make a path for the next generation of female broadcasters.
Last year, she played her part as the Voice Over Artist at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards as she kept the audience engaged on the special evening to celebrate women in sport.
Speaking to Celine Abrahams, Moeng talks about how she changed from politics to sports journalism, her dream of owning a football club one day and plans to play a bigger role in promoting women’s sport.
Thato, how’s things going your side?
All good I would say. Yes, COVID-19 has come at an unwelcomed time but it’s also a breather, it gives people time to rethink and reassess their lives. In a sporting sense, obviously we were going to get a break once the league ended but I suppose this is also an unconstitutional break but well deserved for all of us that have been working for so long in the sporting world.
We were going full steam ahead preparing for the Olympics as well but in all honesty when you start looking at the athletes, the administrators, and how things were going in South Africa, were we ready to go to Tokyo 2020?
We know that the global COVID-19 pandemic has the world at a standstill, however, what has been a positive aspect for you, personally?
Getting to spend time with my daughter most of the time. I work on radio, I work at SuperSport, I’m usually either in studio or on the field whenever there is a midweek or weekend game, so I’m hardly ever home because I travel. I never get to spend much time with my daughter and my family, and I think she’s quite surprised.
I’m starting to see personality traits in her that I never knew were there, so I’m really getting to know her a bit better because we take things for granted and this is the time to not be in that fast-paced life but appreciate the little things.
How has this period impacted on your work?
I work at Vision View Sports Radio which is an internet sports radio station and because we are so small we thought that we could perhaps continue just before lockdown was in full effect, we were still working and trying to broadcast as much as we could.
But we realised that we can’t put peoples lives in danger. As much as I’ve got this itch to go out there’s nobody there to broadcast, to be with me at the sporting fields, so it has impacted our lives quite massively. Financially I think a lot of people are going to struggle.
It has really taken me out of my normal routine and trying to grasp life now almost without a job in essence has been a bit of a challenge but like I said, the rest has been welcomed and knowing that once lockdown ends it’s going to be tough and I am going to get exactly what I’m wishing for and perhaps even much more (laughs).
Do you have any concerns on how this pandemic will prolong sporting events around the world?
Yes, I have a bit of anxiety! The pandemic will end, I think the problem right now especially after President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the lockdown is not knowing what’s going to happen. It gives us time to look back at what we are doing in terms of hosting sporting events and how we could better ourselves. But it is a definite concern.
Let us talk more about your career. How did your career in sports begin?
Well, the shortened end of it, I studied Journalism and I was mostly interested in doing Politics. I got an internship at YFM that was years ago (laughs) over ten years ago and I got through the first Y Academy which was an internship programme across the country, and we were the first 12 to get into this programme. It was nice, and I tried to do politics being a proper upright journalist but man I was missing out on the fun.
I remember one day my editor came to me and he said, “You’ve got an interest in sport, why don’t you try it?” And, I didn’t see a career in it. I loved politics so much and there were only a few examples of female sports broadcasters at the time. There were ladies like Carol Tshabalala, Kass Naidoo, Cynthia Chaka, but there weren’t many, so I didn’t see myself as a journalist to make an impact on the world of sport as much as I could with politics. Oh, was I wrong?
I enjoyed doing sports! I did sports for YFM Breakfast, Drive Time, I also had a current affairs on Sundays and that’s where the sporting career started and then I was called by 5FM where I went and did sports for them around 2011 after a couple of years at YFM.
But, before that, in 2010 I was called by SuperSport to audition for a new sports show that they had. I went to the auditions and that’s when I got into SuperSport in 2010 for Thursday Night Live with Robert Marawa and that ended in 2019. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride doing radio and television, but it’s been quite interesting as well.
I think I still have some knack to do print. Not sure, I think I should also stay in my lane (laughs) and sharpen my craft regarding broadcasting.
What have been the challenges that you have faced along the way?
Challenges don’t stop. I think that anything that I do personally, I love the challenges! I love looking at a challenge and seeing how I can get around it and once I bust that challenge, I feel great. Challenges have been there, and I think it’s like anyone else’s job. It is quite different for women in sport, in broadcasting as well.
We always get asked about how we make it in a male-dominated industry and it’s never been easy. We’ve had to break down some doors and some doors have remained closed, there have been some tears, there have been massive triumphs, but I think that whole journey and those challenges are what I am thankful for.
Who would you say inspired you to get into sports reporting?
As I pointed out earlier, I’ve always been a lover of journalism and telling a story, being a gatekeeper, being a watchdog for the people, a defender for the defenceless. One woman specifically that literally stands out for me because of the emotions that she brought out of me and I told myself that was what I wanted to do when I was going to tell people stories and make them feel apart of action and for me that was Cynthia Chaka.
Every single time she came on television the honesty and how genuine she was in what she was saying and how knowledgeable she was as well; I have always been in awe of how she does anything. Sometimes when I’m in a situation I would ask myself what Cynthia Chaka would do and that’s how much I love and admire her (chuckles).
What do you love most about being part of the sports industry?
That the sports industry and more so talking about the footballing industry it’s a family affair. What I love the most also is getting to know people, getting to know players and going through this journey with them. After a decade in this industry knowing that you have seen the likes of Jimmy Tau as a player, knowing Percy Tau’s story, Thabo Qalinge, knowing their trials and tribulations is magnificent.
What are you still hoping to achieve in your career?
I’ve got so many dreams! More than anything I always want to inspire the next generation, I always wanted to learn more, like I said I like challenges and I like to learn new avenues within my career.
I would also really love to own a football club. It is my dream to have a football club and it’s really about community and seeing how I could better my community. I want to make sure that I achieve my dreams and open doors for others.
Do you plan on playing a bigger role in women’s sport?
Yes. I do! I’d really love to play a bigger role in women’s sport. I worked on the FIFA Women’s World Cup in one of the earlier days when I got to SuperSport and I worked with Amanda Dlamini, Janine van Wyk and at that time Banyana Banyana had not qualified for a World Cup.
I remember going into studio every day and it was only three of us and we felt that we had to drum up so much support for women’s sports. What I would love to see at the upcoming 2023 Netball World Cup is South Africa going out to watch South Africa play and not just mothers and their daughters because it’s females playing sport.
That’s why it is important to have platforms like gsport to make sure that female sport is out there nomakanjani (no matter what) people say.
What do you think about the current state of women’s sport in the country?
In my opinion it has improved but it’s still far off. There was a point in time when we had a female sports Minister and I loved the fact that she would have women in sport breakfasts and people would talk but there were no actions being taken for what we discussed. We knew the problems but where was the action coming from?
I think the current state is not as great as before, but we cannot deny the fact that sponsors have come out in the last two or three years and have taken the baton. Sponsors like Sasol who honestly have been running a race with a few but there need to be more coming on board.
In the industry, is there any other woman in sport that has continuously supported you?
Just like when you asked about what I loved about being in the sports industry and I said it’s like a family affair, it’s the same with the ladies where we are a girl gang. But if I had to pick one who really stands out it would be Motshidisi Mohono. She’s more than a friend, she’s a sister. I’m not sure who’s older between myself and her (laughs).
She’s a shoulder to cry on, someone I could bounce things off on and we’ve had such a great relationship that expands over a decade. We worked together at YFM and even then, we were such great friends.
Photo 1 Caption: Thato Moeng, the woman whose name is synonymous with radio sports presenting and broadcasting, has a dream of owning a football club one day. Photo: Frennie Shivambu
Photo 2 Caption: Moeng has been part of the sports industry for more than a decade and has broken down barriers as she aims to make a path for the next generation of female broadcasters. Photo: Frennie Shivambu
Photo 3 Caption: Last year, she played her part as the Voice Over Artist at the 2019 Momentum gsport Awards as she kept the audience engaged on the special evening to celebrate women in sport. Photo: Thato Moeng (Instagram)