Time check and it’s a day after which the mesmerizing Egyptian, Mohamed Salah has been crowned the best player in Africa, and we caught up with the delicious-charming premium show host and sports journalist, MIMI FAWAZ at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana to talk about sports, African women in sports and how budding women sports journalists can find their lane in the echelons of this passion which is fast becoming mouthwatering and gaining a reputation worth venturing into. Mimi, who is a renowned journalist at Vox Africa TV, has worked with CNN, ESPN and ITV. Described as the ‘driving force behind UK’s first original African football show’, she has successfully carved a niche for herself in a field dominated by men. The half-Nigerian born, down-to-earth, intelligence told YemmeYbaba exclusively that she sees Africa doing very well in Russia 2018.
Welcome to Ghana. This must be your first time here?
I first came to Ghana to cover the Michael Essien Charity match, and then my second coming was to cover the CAF Awards 2017. I sincerely love the market, people and culture of the people of Ghana; they are so friendly and loving. The foods are inviting. I am definitely going to come back regularly to this beautiful country.
Mohamed Salah won the gong for the CAF Player of the Year, after winning the BBC’s; do you agree from a sports journalist point of view?
Mohamed Salah is a worthy winner who had earlier performed incredibly well in Roma. He is a bargain buy who deserves what he is getting currently. I presented the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award to him at Liverpool few weeks ago, and I can tell you that he is a really nice guy. After helping Egypt back to the World Cup after nearly 30 years, one cannot deny his immense impact among his team mates and country.
How has the journey come out for you after about a decade doing what you love doing?
It’s all a learning curve. I am still growing, pushing myself to higher heights. As I always say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I learn from my mistakes and improve on them. I am never complacent with work. I always love to challenge myself to be best; in a nutshell, it’s been a worthy experience in the industry I passionately admire. I have had great opportunities covering the African Cup of Nations, FIFA Confederation Cup in Russia, travelling to Nigeria to do some features for the BBC, among other things. It’s been a long journey of challenges, Ups & Downs but it has been beautiful. From my internship to where I am now is about ten years; I had to learn the trade from the scratch and grasp everything I was taught. Now, I am happy to see more female journalists doing great work in the industry. I also try to give back by mentoring some that contact me. I believe much in as you rise, lift others.
The sports journalism fraternity is getting more women coming in, as a ‘big sister’, what would you pass on to a budding female sports journalist?
My sincere advice to budding ones coming up this lane is that they should start from smaller broadcasting organizations that need them. A lot of upcoming broadcasters always want to be in front of the cameras as soon as they have the passion (it is a good thing to aspire to), but I tell them to start by learning their trades perfectly because opportunities abound at humble beginnings. You get the opportunity to ask lots of questions while growing up. Producing is such an essential tool; thus, they should learn all the aspects behind the scenes before wanting to front.
Mimi on air
We are in the World Cup year – five African countries are poised to make the continent proud, which country would you put your money on to bring glory to us?
Africa’s position in Russia come the 2018 World Cup looks very bright. I am very happy that this World Cup will see a resurgence of North African countries that have not qualified for over a decade; I am glad that Nigeria has also sorted their winning bonuses ahead of the tournament. Senegal would also do well because they have the leadership of the fantastic Mane and other wonderful players; so the tournament promises to be fruitful for our continent. If I am going to pick one country that looks extra promising, I would say Nigeria because of their squad, outside of that, I would pick Egypt for their current form, pedigree during the qualifiers as led by their coach Hector and Mohamed Salah who scored vital goals for them.
What do you think is the cause as to why the foreign leagues are getting much coverage here in Africa compared to our own domestic leagues?
Both the women’s and men’s domestic league need to be given more attention in all spheres. By investing in the domestic league is how we nurture the future stars of tomorrow.