In a league of her own
Ntebogang Sebetlela is a renowned local female Journalist best known for her sterling work at Btv, where she served as a Sports Reporter and Producer.
She was the producer of Botswana’s first World Cup, The Netball World Youth Cup 2017, earning a certificate of recognition from the local organising committee for her exploits.
The 37-year-old produced live sports programmes such as Enole Sports Show, broadcast every Saturday afternoon, as well as Tshamekang and Final Whistle.
She also covered Sports for RB 2, presenting live weekly shows primarily centred on female athletes.
In 2017 she was chosen to become the media liaison officer for International Working Group on Women and Sports (IWG).
Sebetlela’s dedication to sports reporting saw her become part of the Botswana Sports Writers Association (SWAB) Executive Committee, a position she held until making an unexpected career move to Sierra Leone last year, where she currently works as a Media Studies Lecturer at Limkokwing University.
Sebetlela is also the Deputy Director for Media for Africa Sports Ventures Group (ASVG).
The Voice’s Portia Mlilo caught up with her fellow female Sports Journalist to find out a bit more about the person behind the legend.
Q. What made you choose Journalism?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a journalist.
It was that or law.
I loved writing and reading and I was very good with English.
My teachers actually planted the journalism seed in me.
Since Junior School they would tell me that one day I’m going to be a great newsreader!
Ba raya gore ke bale mo classing (they wanted me to read out loud in class).
Q. And why the Sports side of the industry?
Well I never thought I would be a sport reporter; it was by default actually.
I remember my first day at Btv, during orientation I wanted to go to news section.
There was no lady showing signs of going to sport, impulsively I raised my hand.
Edson Malebane was happy and said welcome, I promise you, you are going to love it.
Even Fundamental Gaoforwe at RB2 always encouraged me to work hard and do Sport reporting and presenting.
Q. What was it like working a male dominated beat?
Well it is not easy to work with males most of the time in a territory that they believe is theirs!
It was challenging and taxing. Sometimes when covering a football game it becomes very difficult to call coaches for interviews.
It is like they don’t accord women the same respect they give men.
I cried once after a Mascom Top8 semi-final at our post match meeting.
I was producing and it was a fantastic production.
I cried because half way through the first half I had an inspiration and shared it with the Director, Dintle.
The rest of the team were resistant but because I’m very stubborn I won and the production was brilliant.
Q. Botswana is still experiencing a shortage of women in sports in general, what do you think could be the problem?
I think the participation of less women in sports in Botswana is mostly because of the gender pay in sports.
Male athletes earn more due to better sponsorship and endorsement deals, which has made males more marketable.
Q. Do you think hosting the IWG Conference has made a difference?
Yes, IWG made great dialogue around female athletes and we saw a lot of people, even journalists, attending sport codes that have females.
Q. What have you learnt as a media liaison officer for IWG?
I learned to be strategic in handling issues affecting an organisation, being cooperative and relate to others with good communication skills.
I also learnt that working with media is not easy so you need to be a good communicator and very patient.
Q. You are a graduate of the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA), kindly tell our readers about the academy’s mandate.
WSLA is mandated to developing tomorrow’s leaders of sport, combining the essential elements for self-critical learning and development.
Q. You have been in Sierra Leone for over a year now. How are you finding working in a foreign country so far from home?
Being a foreigner is not easy and the homesickness…
I lost my mother the fourth month I was here, I have never felt so alone.
Apart from that, the challenge is the cultural shock, the different languages.
Now you have to adapt to a way of life that is not yours, eat food that it’s your first time to see.
All in all it is a good experience.
The people here are very hospitable and it is an extremely beautiful country with crazy topography.
Q. How did you find the transition from working behind the microphone to lecturer?
It was difficult at first because I felt like I have a heavy weight of people’s futures on my shoulders (laughing).
As a graduate of Limkokwing University, where presentations are an everyday occurrence, I did not feel out of place for long.
I adapted quickly.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your new career?
What I enjoy most about lecturing is mentoring, seeing trust and hope in the eyes of my student.
Yes, sometimes I miss radio and TV and last year October SLBC – Sierra Leone National Broadcaster – reached out to me.
They offered me the chance to produce and present my own sport programme.
If I’m still here post Covid-19, I think I might just do it during my spare time.
Q. Kindly tell our readers about your role as Deputy Director of Media and Communications for ASVG?
My role is to manage and direct our organisations’ internal and external communications.
Also to create communication strategies, supervise public relations staff and serve as the key spokesperson and media contact for the organisation.
It’s been a year now as a Deputy Director for ASVG and I hope it is for the long haul.
We intend to change for the better the business of sport in Africa.
Q. How did you become part of ASVG?
That is interesting.
I think mostly how I become part of ASVG is tied to me coming to Sierra Leone – normally I tell people that I think my destiny is tied to this country.
From primary school I was nicknamed Sierra Leone!
Anyway, I told Game Mothibi that I am coming here and she gave me a number of our present CEO saying he is in USA but from Salone (Sierra Leone) and a sport journalist.
She encouraged me to call him and that was how I was part of the first people to start the possibility of Africa Sports Ventures Group.
We thank God that today it is an internationally recognised sport solutions organisation.
Q. Wait, your nickname at school was Sierra Leone?
(Laughing) Yes. I was taking part in the Commonwealth celebrations as Sierra Leone and the nickname started from there.
Even today, some still use it.
Q. Wow, what a coincidence! Anyway, what exactly is ASVG’s objective?
It is based on the belief that Sport unity is vital to economic, social and political progress.
It aims to ‘unify and uplift’ people of Africa.
Q. And how will your being part of ASVG benefit Botswana?
ASVG will benefit Botswana greatly by bringing positive attention for participation in or hosting of international events.
As you know, at the just ended ASVG conference it was announced that Liberia is going to host our first project, Africa Ninja Warrior that will have participants from all African countries.
I hope my country can agree to be the second host and have legacies that will come with that and enhance sport tourism.
Q. This is the last year of the current BFA regime, what is your take on their four years in office?
The problem with organisations like BFA is there are no set targets and thus it becomes hard to judge.
Personally I think it is hit and miss, a mixed bag.
They have tried their best in areas such as grassroots development and cleaning BFA’s finances.
But as alluded, we, however, cannot quantify how much they have done because there are no real updates.
On the other side, they have not done so well in other areas like driving professionalisation of football.
Botswana Premier League is now worse off than it has been before.
Q. Do you think they have made any progress in Botswana Football?
Progress of an organisation can be seen by the positives changes that came when they assumed office.
Remember they promised many things but up to today many of them are yet to be realized, including creating jobs.
At some point the association, under President Letshwiti’s watch, was not presenting financials so progress becomes an elusive word referring to their regime.
Q. So what do you think needs to be done?
BFA Leadership need to hire people based on their capabilities not because they helped them with campaigns.
That way, people come in with the experience to turn football, both for men and women, into a money-spinning machine.
Q. Recently the Minister of Sports announced football players and administrators will be given stipend from Covid-19 fund but women footballers were excluded. What is your take on such decisions?
Women football of recent showed great potential and it is really disappointing to see that even the government don’t see the need to motivate them like their male counterparts. This is so demoralizing.
Q. Indeed it is! Moving on to something positive, who is your inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration from many people but my grandmother, Keolebogile Mayor Sebetlela, is number one.
She has always pushed me to do the best and believed in me when everyone distanced themselves.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring female sports journalists?
What I can tell them is that it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and patience to be a sport journalist.
If you want to do it to get known it is not for you.
Journalism comes with a lot of sacrifices, even your friends.
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
Covid-19 has really made sure that our activities are limited.
Mostly on weekends I take a long drive to a friend’s private beach, read and have fun – of course practicing social distancing!