Women Have To Work Twice As Hard As Men In This Industry

Radio and TV presenter Mpho Maboi on being a mom, Banting, and what it takes to make a relationship work…

Mpho Maboi, 36, started out in IT, and only got into sports reporting through a chance encounter. Today, she is a well-known media personality: the sports reporter for The Drive on Metro FM and she’s also the host of Full Coverage on SABC 1. She lives in Joburg with her son, Thato, four. My partner, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, is a soccer player, butI never wanted to date a sportsman – it seems like such a cliche! I made friends with a lot of the professional sportsmen who I met through work, but I was adamant there was a line that I wouldn’t cross. I didn’t even like Reneilwe when I first met him – he tried to get me to go out with him for a year and eventually I agreed…

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Real love is nothing like it’s portrayed in Mills & Boon novels. For a long time I had a very romanticised idea of love, but I’ve learnt that being a couple is about making a decision – you either decide to get up and love that person every single day, or you end it. Reneilwe and I broke up for two years, and it turned out to be a good thing for both of us. We both felt that we were with the right person, but at the wrong time. We knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but neither of us was ready for a serious relationship. We decided to spend time apart and we matured – and now we know exactly what we want from a partnership.

The older I get, the harder it is to lose weight! The only thing that works for me is Banting, although I think it was the fact that I could still eat bacon that really sold the lifestyle to me! I love food and hate to feel like I’m restricting myself. I have a lot more energy and I’m sleeping better – it has changed my life. Motherhood has calmed me down a lot. Now more than ever I have a purpose bigger than myself to live for. As amazing as being a mom is, I’m not planning on having another baby, though; Reneilwe has a daughter and we have a son, so that’s it – that’s our family. My sister is the most honest person I know. It’s just crazy how many times a day we talk to each other. I appreciate that she tells it like it is; there’s no beating around the bush and, if you don’t like what she has to say, tough! My sports reporting career is the result of being in the right place, at the right time.I met a girl working at YFM as a copywriter, and she suggested that I try record a voiceover. I did that and bumped into DJ Fresh, who liked my voice, and I started reading the traffic on his show. Later I got my own radio show at YFM and then Bridget Masinga [of Kaya FM] happened to mention that SuperSport was looking for a presenter. I did a screen test, they liked me, and that’s how I got into the sports industry…

Women sports presenters have a hard time, I won’t lie. When I started out, I was known as ‘a radio show host who talked a lot’. The audience – let me clarify, the older male audience – used to say things like, ‘What are you doing here? How are you going to convince us you know what you’re talking about when it comes to sport?’ As a woman, you have to work twice as hard as the men in this industry. I could have worked on a story for two months, doing all the build-up, and then sometimes it’s the men who get to be at the finals and report on that day. They get the big cherry on top and I’m left thinking, ‘Ahem, wait, that entire cake is actually mine!’ I have always loved sports. My father is a life-long Kaizer Chiefs fan, so he was really over the moon when I got the job as a sports anchor on SuperSport. He was a bit sceptical at first, but he’s seen how good I am at it, and how much I enjoy it, and I know that he couldn’t be more proud of his daughter. My dad was thrilled when I started dating a soccer player. Now, whenever we go home to visit my parents, I can see that my dad has to bite his tongue to stop himself from asking Reneilwe a million questions about soccer!

Navigating social media can be tricky. I read a quote once that said social media is what happens when a bunch of people are waiting around to be offended – and I think that’s a pretty accurate description! I used to get really worked up when people got personal on Twitter, but I have realised that they’re really just trying to get your attention – they’re being trolls. When you block people, they see it as an achievement, so I won’t give them the satisfaction anymore. The mute button on Twitter is the best invention since sliced bread – or even the internet in this case! I got suspended from work for tweeting that I didn’t care for one of my Metro FM colleagues. I don’t regret saying it because, at the time, it was the truth. We’re working together again, this time on the drive-time show, and we’ve actually become good friends!

I LOVE ARCADE GAMES.My ideal night out is going to a restaurant with Reneilwe, enjoying really good food, then finally ending up at the arcade game area at Montecasino. He’ll play Pac-Man, and I will play Basketball. It’s just the two of us, having fun. We love it. I CAN BE QUITE FEISTY. Many people have this perception that if you’re in the public eye, you can’t be offended when somebody says something rude to you. You are expected to just smile, grin and bear it, but I won’t stand for it. I HARDLY EVER CRY.In fact, I don’t tolerate tears well – they’re not going to work on me if you’re trying to get sympathy.

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