#WCW We Need to Keep the Fire of 2023 Burning for Women’s Sport – Lerato Watile Tsolo

Heads of Research and Editorial at SABC Sport, Lerato Watile Tsolo’s 18 years in the industry has instilled in this inspiring leader in sports media a mantra of zero error - If you want to win and dominate, you’d better come prepared! Photo: Supplied

Lerato Watile Tsolo (Née Gumbi) heads up the Research and Editorial department at SABC Sport, a massive responsibility that she has undertaken with grace and utmost professionalism. While many Sports news rooms are often led by men, SABC Sport entrusted her – and the word is that she’s changed the game at the Public Broadcaster!

Tsolo’s department, comprising of award-winning Journalists, is responsible for the SABC Sport website, SABC Sport social media platforms, providing content to SABC Radio Stations for sport bulletins, as well as conducting and sending research for the different SABC Sport productions. 

A cherished highlight of Tsolo’s is the establishment SABCSport.com, a platform that has become a credible and reliable source of information that is often leading with the country’s breaking sport news, exclusive stories and news from across the globe. 

One can only think: A task so momentous, is bound to come with its fair share of challenges, especially as a women in a male-dominated space.., right? 

“Broadcasting has zero room for errors and you’re constantly under the microscope. So if you want to win and dominate, you need to come prepared. You need to be mentally sharp, emotionally strong and physically capable,” says Tsolo. 

Read on to learn more about this inspiring leader in sports media:

Lerato, we are so delighted to finally learn about your sport and how it all began. Briefly take us through how the journey started? 

My journey in sport started in 2005 as football contributor for KickOff magazine and, at the time, I was still a BA Journalism student at the Midrand Graduate Institute. 

I then joined YFM as a weekend sports presenter, and started to find my footing in the industry. I met this larger than life character, the former SABC Sport broadcaster, Billy Senaume, who introduced to my former boss, Mzimasi Mgebisa, who went on to give me my first freelance contract at SABC Sport. 

I grabbed that opportunity with both hands and ran with it. I’m here today because those gentleman opened the doors for me.

What does your role as Head of Research and Editorial entail? 

As the Head of Research & Editorial I lead a team of award winning journalists and researchers who contribute to the SABC Sport content pool. Our office runs the SABC Sport.com site, all SABC Sport social media platforms. 

We also provide radio bulletins and research packs for all SABC Sport productions. In short, we are the A team, a bunch of winners who dominate the local sport media landscape.

Not only are you in a male dominated industry, but you’re also in a leadership position. What are some of the challenges you face?

There’s a long list of challenges but for me, the one challenge that constantly keeps me on my toes is “carrying the burden of excellence.” Broadcasting has zero room for errors and you’re constantly under the microscope. 

So if you want to win and dominate, you need to come prepared. You need to be mentally sharp, emotionally strong and physically capable. Staying on top of these three pillars of strength is what drives me every day; it ensures that I never fold.

The number of women in the South African sports media is growing, and SABC Sport is one of the places that sets the standard in opening the doors for ladies. Talk to us about the media industry’s role in advancing women in sport? 

The media industry plays an important role in overcoming barriers to women’s participation in all sectors of sports. It gives women exposure and a voice in the sports arena. 

This then develops a new narrative for women in sports. A narrative that says women are competent and capable of dominating in this space.

You’re a mom and that too is a rewarding full-time job. When the schedule gets busy and it all feels a little too much. How do you re-centre yourself? 

Maintaining a healthy balance is important in life. I intentionally pour back into self by doing the things I love outside of being a mother and boss. 

Every so often I check out and feed my soul. 

I travel and visit the winelands, spend a good amount of time at a spa and make sure that I’m always at peace with myself in the present moment.

What have been some of the rewarding moments in your career? 

The most rewarding moment in my career has been building the SABC Sport.com site from the ground up. SABCSport.com has been a big game changer in the local media landscape. 

It’s the one trusted digital platform that provides a gold mine of South African sports news on a daily basis. Seeing it grow and become the beast it has become today gives me a lot of pride. 

Women in sport have enjoyed better coverage particularly in the past year, what can we do to ensure that more effort is made as we aim to close the visibility gap?

We need to keep the momentum by continuing to enhance the coverage of women in sport. 

2023 has been a historic year of women in sport, and has proved to us that the product is there. We had the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Netball World Cup and the International Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup. 

These events have given women across all sectors an opportunity to thrive on the global stage, and it’s important for us to keep that fire burning. 

Being the superwoman that you are, I’d like to end of with 2 sets of advice: 

a) What would you say to encourage young girls that would like to one day hold a position as impressive as yours at the Public Broadcaster

Develop a great work ethic and an unshakeable confidence in your abilities. These two principles will take you far in this cut throat broadcasting space.

b) To mommies that are constantly on the grind, like you, what words of motivation can you share for them to use when the going gets tough?

We owe it to our kids to show them that anything is possible in life. Your dedication to your craft inspires and shapes their growth. So keep going, keep soaring and keep inspiring.


Photo Caption: Heads of Research and Editorial at SABC Sport, Lerato Watile Tsolo’s 18 years in the industry has instilled in this inspiring leader in sports media a mantra of zero error – If you want to win and dominate, you’d better come prepared! Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: Advice to young women following in her footsteps? “Develop a great work ethic and an unshakeable confidence in your abilities. These two principles will take you far in this cut throat broadcasting space.” Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: How does Lerato reset the balance when a busy schedule gets too much? “Maintaining a healthy balance is important in life. I intentionally pour back into self by doing the things I love outside of being a mother and boss.” Photo: Supplied

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