WATCH: Carol Tshabalala blazes her own trail

South Africa’s first lady of sport, Carol Tshabalala, who hosted the Fifa Women’s Football and Leadership Conference in Zurich on 7 March.

Tshabalala is an award-winning South African sports television presenter, emcee, radio presenter, boxing ring announcer, scriptwriter and voice artist.

She began her broadcasting career in 2000 as a host of youth sports programme Sportsbuzz. In less than a year, she was a field reporter and soon earned the prestigious accolade of being the first female sports anchor of a major TV show, Mabaleng, previously hosted by Robert Marawa and Martin Locke.

Tshabalala admitted that it was a bit of a challenge when she first started as a young female sports presenter in a male dominated industry and had to work three times harder than her male counterparts. “Sport is really driven by your passion and knowledge, you have to be a woman of substance and earn that respect,” she said.

Tshabalala has now been in the business for 16 years, and is arguably one of the best sports anchor’s this country has produced. She is also the only African to have co-hosted the biggest international soccer awards event, the Fifa Ballon d’Or, which she did in 2011.

A mother of three boys, Tshabalala said balancing her work, which constantly requires her to travel, and being a parent was not a problem. “I am very fortunate I have three boys that love sport,” she said.

“For them, it is not that difficult as they were born into this life. I have been doing this [since] before they were born.”

Having grown up in Pimville, Soweto, it was not always easy for Tshabalala as she had to overcome a lot of adversity to get where she is today. “Remembering where I come from is what keeps me rooted. It was not always easy, I had to fight hard to overcome many a challenge, including not having enough money.”

When asked who inspired her she said, “I look up to a lot of people, but my mother has to be up there. It was not easy for her raising us as a single parent. She is a constant inspiration.”

Tshabalala also encouraged young up-and-coming women who would like to pursue careers as sports anchors to follow their passion.

Nkululeko Zilibokwe

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