SuperSport presenter Dikeledi Tshabalala is on a mission to make her mark as the sports media space opens for more women to showcase their abilities.
In 2012, Tshabalala’s journey began as sports anchor at UJFM and worked her way up until she joined the World of Champions.
The tenacious broadcaster has had her fair share of obstacles but these challenges have not deterred her dreams, rather it has motivated her to get to where she aims to be.
Tshabalala has seized every opportunity that has come her way and is ready to take the next step in her career.
In 2022, Tshabalala covered the action-packed Telkom Netball League and now has ambitions of being part of the team to host the 2023 Netball World Cup, which is set to take place in Cape Town.
Speaking with Babsie Kutwana, Tshabalala unpacks her career to date and reveals her aspirations.
Hi Dikeledi, thank you for joining us today. For those who do not know you, please unpack your broadcasting journey for us.
It all started in 2012 when I saw a flyer stating that there are auditions for UJ FM. I have always wanted to be in the sports industry even from primary to high school, I played multiple sporting codes from netball, touch rugby, and cross country to athletics. Broadcasting was never a thing for me though, so when I saw the flyer, I decided to take a shot at it.
In 2012 I joined UJFM after winning the audition to become a sports anchor, this was my very first audition ever. Five months later I got my big break and joined YFM as a sports anchor and field reporter. I also coached netball at Redhill School for five years. In 2016 I won another audition and joined Soweto TV as a presenter, I hosted a women empowerment show for four years until 2020.
I freelanced for Power FM as a sports anchor from 2018 until 2021. I also Freelance for Netball South Africa as a writer for the Telkom Netball League, my articles were also published on the SuperSport website. I also assisted SuperSport by doing post-match interviews at last year’s Telkom Netball League.
I currently host a show on Vision View Sports Radio with Thato Moeng, Monday to Thursday between 12-3 pm. I have also covered big sporting events such as the 2019 and 2021 SA Spring Open and the 2021 African Union Sports Council Region 5 games in Lesotho.
How are you intersecting your coaching experience and your passion for sport into your broadcasting?
Broadcasting is a different ball game in totality. What you take from coaching is your knowledge of that specific sporting code and that’s what I can use for covering Netball. So that is what I have taken from me knowing the beautiful game of Netball. We were also known as umpires. We graded as umpires. This is what makes life easier in terms of knowing and understanding Netball. Like the ins and outs. I’ve studied it and I have played it. You hear a lot of people saying that you should play the sport professionally for you to be able to cover a sporting code, I don’t believe that. Yes, you can be a pundit in terms of having played the sport professionally. We need that and that’s why we have analysts. As a presenter on the other hand, if I have played it growing up or provincially and just decided not to venture into it. You also need to have the talent and passion for sports and broadcasting. That’s why I think I deserve to be where I am.
What is the best advice you have received that you still use to date?
Patience and perseverance. It took me 10 years to get to where I am today. I started this journey in 2012. A decade later, things are only starting to look up now. Having the passion for this thing. If you do not have the passion, then why bother yourself. You need to love what you do.
What has been your biggest highlight thus far in your journey?
My biggest highlight is getting the SuperSport contract and it is because my journey started in 2012 when I started attending auditions. A decade later here I am. It has always been a dream of mine and I have always worked towards it. For me to witness it coming to fruition is a dream come true because it is all I ever wanted. All the jobs that I got along the way have prepared me for this moment and now that it is happening, I will gladly grab this opportunity with both hands and run away with it.
What is the most fulfilling part of what you do?
The most fulfilling part of being a broadcaster is also playing a part in the coverage of women’s sport. Women’s sport is not getting the attention that it deserves but there have been improvements. For me, it’s fulfilling that I can play a role, I can play a part and be an advocate for women’s sport and make a difference as well. I am super grateful for what gsport is doing, being one of the leading platforms to advocate for women’s sport and shine the spotlight on them. For me to also be able to play my part and use the resources at my disposal to be a voice for women’s sport.
Why do you think the role of media is important in elevating women’s sport?
A lot of people do not know what is going on in women’s sport only because of the limited coverage. It starts with the media. People are informed through the media be it TV, radio, newspapers or social media. So we should use the platforms to educate and inform them about what is happening in women’s sport, then there will be more interest in the women’s side of the game. It’s vital for us to reach every single part of the world and let them know about women’s sport and not limit the daily coverage. Let us also play our part as media to cover women’s sport as much as we do for men’s sport.
How do you feel about the rise of women presence in sports media and how can we nurture the talent?
It is so inspiring to see women flourishing and breaking boundaries in a male-dominated industry. We need to be honest with ourselves. As women, we are still trying to penetrate this industry. I am super grateful for women who have paved the way for us. The Carol Tshabalala’s who have made it possible for us to believe it is possible to have a career in sports. To see women now, especially at the Telkom Netball League, where it was mostly a female-led production from camera people to the director to the presenters. It’s good to see that we are now being taken seriously. We have studied for this. We have a passion for it. We have worked hard to be where we are. So for us to break boundaries and show everyone that we can do it, it’s inspiring.
Our current theme is the Power of Recognition, why do you think recognition is important in our space?
It’s very important to be recognised in any career because recognition says a lot about the kind of work that you do. If people recognise your work it means there is something that you are doing right. For people to acknowledge and recognise your work and celebrate your work, for me that is a bonus. That also plays a role in how far you are going to go or paves the way for other opportunities as well. I mean if people recognise your good work or your work ethic, people will start talking about it. And when people start talking about it, it sparks interest. When it sparks interest, it opens up opportunities. When opportunities start opening up for me that’s when success starts happening.
What’s next for Dikeledi?
In the near future – in a year, I would like to be part of the 2023 Netball World Cup production. For me to cover a world cup on home soil is what I am working towards.
Photo 1 Caption: SuperSport presenter Dikeledi Tshabalala is on a mission to make her mark as the sports media space opens for more women to showcase their abilities. Photo: Supplied