The Rise of #gsportLIVE’s Babsie Kutwana and Celine Abrahams

As we approached #gsport17, Kass Naidoo, founder of gsport started #gsportLIVE every Monday on YouTube. Followers and Subscribers were kept up to date on the latest in women’s sport and also treated to #BigInterviews, a chat with some of the biggest stars in the game.

And true to this mantra “empowered women, empower women,” after a few episodes, Naidoo passed the baton on to gsport writer, Babsie Kutwana and gsport Content Lead Celine Abrahams as hosts.

Despite the nerves initially plaguing both Kutwana and Abrahams, the pair seized this invaluable opportunity.

“I was nervous, I mean I had big shoes to fill but I was definitely grateful for the opportunity. As scared as I was, I was ready for this opportunity to launch my career,” says Kutwana.

Content Lead Abrahams, who is a beast behind the scenes, was taken out of her comfort zone but she acknowledges that all growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.

“I am grateful that Kass gave me the nudge I needed or else I wouldn’t have realised other talents that I have. We all know that one does not grow in their comfort zone(s) and had I stayed, chilling behind my laptop screen, we unfortunately would not be having this conversation today.”

The first season of #gsportLIVE culminated in an incredible life changing opportunity as both Abrahams and Kutwana were given an opportunity to be part of the 2022 Momentum gsport Awards Presenter Squad as presenters of the gsport Newsroom. An opportunity that many can only dream of; Live TV on the biggest sport channel in Africa, working on South Africa’s biggest night for women in sport.

The cherry on top: a friendship was created and their bond strengthened as the two young women had to rely on each other for support when the going of creating a live production got tough – we can all agree that you breathe a huge sigh of relief when you know that ‘as I’m about to embark into this exciting unknown, this person has got by back’.

Abrahams affirms this as she describes how her relationship with Babsie grew in the duration of hosting #gsportLIVE.

“Having Babsie alongside me also helped a lot. We made it our mission to get to know each other more and it showed on the show because of the synergy that was evident between the two of us.”

In this chat, Lonwabo Nkohla had a sit down with both these incredible talents.

 

 What did you gain from your #gsportLIVE experience?

Celine Abrahams: Firstly, the past few months have been one of the best moments in my career. #gsportLIVE has given me more confidence, it allowed me to be free and express my opinions and to delve into various topics with women in sport, which was a great learning experience.

Most importantly, I learnt how to be more articulate and to be comfortable in front of a camera. I had to constantly remind myself to not worry that people were tuning in to watch, but to enjoy the conversations and have fun. I won’t lie, it took a while but I eventually got there.

Another thing I learnt was seeing how much goes on behind the scenes to produce a show and we were part of every step. I have so much more respect for content creators now!

Babsie Kutwana: If anything, I gained confidence to trust in my ability to know that I am worthy and capable to take up my own space in the industry. I really enjoyed the content production side of things in putting a show together and having a plan B, C and D as back-ups if plan A doesn’t work out. Learning how to keep calm during a live and being in the moment was a huge learning.

#gsporrtLIVE taught me that I don’t have time to wallow in mistakes – it’s how I recover from the mistake to make sure I have a strong finish. The whole experience really made me establish and understand how I conduct interviews and how to make my guest feel free in sharing their story. Honestly, I should write a book with all that #gsportLIVE has taught me in the past couple of months. It has really set a good foundation for my broadcasting career.

 

What was your highlight of Season 1 of #gsportLIVE?

Celine: The standout for me has to be, firstly, the experience gained and secondly, getting the opportunity to invite our guests into studio where we get to experience them first hand. We are so used to interviewing and chatting to guests either via a video or telephonic interview, but with #gsportLIVE we welcomed them into our space. These are great memories to last a lifetime!

Babsie: My biggest highlight was definitely all the stories we shared. Just seeing how the women we had on the show felt recognised and appreciated in being invited to being on the show really made everything worthwhile.

 

What was your feeling when you first started presenting and how are you feeling now about it?

Celine: Wow, (I am laughing as I answer this) I was nervous, my palms were sweating and I was scared that I wasn’t going to utter a word when it was going to be my turn to speak. But, funny enough, it all turned out well. Again, having people around you that are you used to and work with daily really make things easier. I had both Babsie and gsport Founder Kass Naidoo with me when I did my first in-studio #gsportLIVE session and that eased me into the show.

Now, I am keen about presenting. I would love to try it out more and see where it takes me.

Babsie: I was definitely nervous, I felt like everything had to be perfect. I put so much pressure on myself and felt I wasn’t even supposed to stumble. I was constantly ready to critique myself every step of the way but Kass taught me something very important which is identify one thing I excelled in and one thing I can improve on. It is so easy to focus on the negative when you put unnecessary pressure on yourself, that you forget to celebrate the strides you make to improve.

I am now more confident, I know it’s okay to make mistakes and acknowledge them but acknowledging doesn’t mean that I need to linger on it but rather use it to come back stronger the next time. I am more confident in dealing with any curve ball thrown my way during a live broadcast and running with it to find a positive spin to it. I now fully believe that I am good at this and I am ready to further unleash my potential.

 

Did you see yourself as a presenter? Or was it something that took you out of your respective comfort zones?

Celine: At first, it really was out of my comfort zone. For those who know me, know that I love working behind the scenes. But over time, Kass has been making sure that I am getting in front of the camera. In her words, “You are too pretty to not be seen” ha, ha, ha…

I am grateful that she gave me the nudge I needed or else I wouldn’t have realised other talents that I have. We all know that one does not grow in their comfort zones and if I stayed, chilling behind my laptop screen, we unfortunately would not be having this conversation today!

Babsie: I have always seen myself as a presenter, the writing was out of my comfort zone. gsport has truly unleashed different talents that I never thought I had. Just when you think you can’t do something, Kass will come in and show you why you CAN do it!

  

Describe what it was like being part of the Presenter squad?

Celine: What an eye-opening experience, I still look back at the images and videos and ask myself if that’s really me that I am looking at, LOL!

I must start by thanking Kass for giving me the opportunity. She could’ve chosen any other experienced campaigner but she decided to open the doors to two upcoming presenters on the biggest awards night for women’s sport on the continent!

Being on the Presenter Squad alongside greats like Julia Stuart and Usher Komugisha was out of this world! I watched Julia during two rehearsals and I picked up so many key points that I noted down. Her work ethic is outstanding and it is one of the reasons why she is so good at what she does. I also got the opportunity to sit down at lunch and have a chat with Usher, yes I was star-struck at first ha, ha, but she is such a lovely spirit! I remember catching a glimpse of her on the red-carpet doing her thing and it all comes so effortlessly for her when she has a mic in hand and the camera is rolling.

When I grow up, I want to be like Julia and Usher (winks).

Babsie: Being part of the presenter squad was something magical. It was truly an honour to share a stage with the amazing woman like Julia Stuart and Usher Komigisha. It was a great experience that I will forever treasure. This was the validation and experience that gave me the ultimate confidence boost that I am worthy of all my dreams. What made it even more special was sharing the experience with Celine Abrahams.

 

From this experience, what is your advice to motivate young presenters who want to or are starting out? 

Celine: 1.Be ready because you are going to experience the ups and downs! It’s not going to be smooth sailing every time you are on the job but the most important thing is how you bounce back. Challenges are a part of our everyday life, but we still get up every morning and push yourselves to do better, it’s the same principle that we have to apply when it comes to our work.

2.You have to be willing to put in the hours and do the work! Nothing is going to come to you on a silver platter. Do your research and make sure that you are well aware of the topics that you are covering or the person/people that you are going to be interviewing.

3.Remember to always go back and watch yourself. How will you know what to work on if you don’t take the time to review your work? It’s also good to get a mentor, someone who you can get advice from and someone who will be able to point out what it is that you are doing well or things that you need to work on.

4.Most importantly, enjoy what you do and have fun. You have an audience to entertain, so you need to bring the vibe that makes them want to come back and watch you or the show that you are presenting.

Babsie: Be patient with yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes, they are the stepping stone to your come back. You are worthy to take the stage. Trust in your ability and your talents. Always have a willingness to learn and have an open mind. Always remember to have fun.

 

Let’s dream big now, what is your ultimate sports broadcasting dream?

Celine: A short story, I fell in love with football at the age of 6 and I’ve always wanted to be at a FIFA World Cup – how wonderful it would be to be a part of the broadcasting team one day? The little girl in me would SCREAM!

Honestly, I am taking my presenting one day at a time. I believe that what is meant for me, will be mine and if it is to be on the world stage, presenting, then I accept God’s plan for my life.

Babsie:

Anchoring grand slams and having my own sports talk show on the global stage. SkySports and ESPN, I am ready!

 

Opportunities like this one are hard to come by, how much of an impact has gsport had in your career?

Celine: I am crier and I guarantee you that I am tearing up now! gsport has impacted my life so much that I am forever grateful that the team believed in me and brought me in. Just before I joined gsport, I was going through a tough time, doubting myself and my worth in the sport industry. It was so bad that I was thinking of cutting my losses and choosing another career path. gsport was the saving grace that I needed and today, I am blessed to be still living out my dream of doing what I am passionate about.

The past three years have been a blessing and I don’t take the opportunities that I have had for granted because every one of them has made me a better person, not just in terms of work but in my everyday life.

Babsie: gsport has really given my broadcasting career a great boost. It unleashed many talents I didn’t think I had. It pushed me into being an all-rounder, I shouldn’t box myself. It has taught me the importance of not only believing in yourself and having someone to give you the opportunity to unlock the burning talent. gsport has really created a solid foundation for my career and knowing who I am and what I can do. I will forever be grateful to Kass and Ryk for believing in me even when I was ready to throw in the towel. Their support played a huge role in the shift and elevation in my career.

 

In your glossy list of people to interview, who tops that list and why?

Celine: Oh wow, that’s a really tough one! Back to making my 6-year-old self happy, there is a range of legendary football stars that I would love to get a one-on-one with and learn about their journeys to stardom – both here at home in South Africa and abroad. I am a Liverpool supporter so it wouldn’t be too shabby to get into conversations with the likes of Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher (wink).

Also, influential women like Jana Fleishman, who is an American talent agent and business executive. She is currently the Head of Communications and Executive Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Business Development at Roc Nation in the sports department. A woman breaking barriers in the sport business world!

Serena Williams also makes my list. Simply because she has been a force both on and off court. Her experience of sport and life is unmatched, so many can learn from her!

There are so many people around the world who have impacted sport in so many ways. I wish we had ample space to get through a list and share reasons of why I’d love to have a chat with them. But for now, the names above are just some of who I have enjoyed watching their careers over the years.

Babsie: Serena Williams and Roger Federer – besides them being trailblazers and I would love to understand their journeys and what is next after retirements

Ashleigh Barty – This is someone who proved that you can change careers to suit what is best for you.

Candace Parker – The ultimate WNBA fairy-tale, when people where counting her out she came back stronger to prove the Naysayers wrong.

Jamie Chadwick – What sparked her love for motor racing and what plans she has to join F1

 

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