The late Nelson Mandela once said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does“. These words inspired Tiyani Mabasa to follow his passion for sport.
Tiyani is a sports analyst who describes himself as an ardent football fan. Hailing from Rotterdam village in Limpopo, he used to play the beautiful game at amateur level, but always enjoyed analysing it more.
Having studied Journalism at Technikon Pretoria (now Tshwane University of Technology) he started his football journalism career in 2004. Mabasa has worked for Soccer-Laduma and Kick-Off before. He is currently employed by Tiso Blackstar, where he writes for the Sowetan and Sunday World, and also analyses football on the SABC’s Munghana Lonene FM. With his extensive experience and love for football, he renders his skills to a few other radio and television channels where he does not get remunerated.
“I was born a writer even though I didn’t know it initially. I always expressed myself better when writing. I believe in combining passions and in this case, it was my writing and football.”
Although football takes precedence in Mabasa’s sporting world, he also enjoys other sporting codes such as Cricket and Boxing. For him, the biggest motivation in his journey is the impact he has had in the lives of many back home. He has managed to convince the youth of the endless career opportunities in sport.
“If I were to refer to where I come from (Rotterdam) I think being in the spotlight gives everyone hope that you can achieve whatever you want and it doesn’t matter where you come from, whether that is a village or some rundown place,” he explained.
Acknowledging the alarming unemployment rate in South Africa, Mabasa encourages young people to always approach their possible employer with insight on the company and position; to leave an impression. He recalls Emailing the editor at Soccer-Laduma for a job (while working as a radio assistant at TUT) and because he was an avid Soccer Laduma reader, he knew what role he could play in improving the publication.
“I don’t remember them taking my idea about what I could improve, but I think that set the tone, because they knew I loved their paper. I was given a freelance job and instead of focusing on the money like I see with many young people, all I cared about was getting my name in there,” he said.
He further informed us that on numerous accounts, young people write to him asking for an opportunity with the Sowetan, but he finds that they do not even read the newspaper – not even electronically. In some cases, many want to be sports writers/presenters just to be as popular as Robert Marawa.
“It’s not a popularity contest, remember that. Do it for the right reasons. It should be something you are passionate about. If you are passionate about politics, for example, stick with that. If I had the power to hire football writers (which I don’t) I wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t even read the paper,” Mabasa added.
On keeping his private life out of the public eye, he said: “I’m not the type who thinks if I post a picture of my daughter on Instagram, someone will kidnap her or if I post a picture of myself next to my car someone will hijack me tomorrow. I believe that I live in a free country and therefore, whatever I do, I have this thing at the back of my mind that I should realise my freedom. The important thing is knowing that you are not different just because you appear on TV or a newspaper”.
Going forward, Mabasa intends to continue covering football but says that the goal is to use his own platform.
“I don’t really believe in an 8-5 job but that doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. I do, but as I grow older (I’m 36 now) I’m starting to see things in a different light,” he said.
Follow Tiyani on Twitter: @TTM16 and on Facebook: Tiyani Mabasa