THE REAL SPORTS FANATIC
*Caption: Neatly dressed Simthembile Mbatha poses for the camera
Written by: Zama Ngcoya
Appearing to have his hands quite full and in a rush, the tall, slim and dark Simthembile Mbatha took a moment of his time to share his life story with Journalismiziko.
The shy and humble Mbatha is a gem, born in 01-July-1991 and was bred in the town of KwaDukuza, in the KwaZulu- Natal north coast. He is an only child from his maternal side, with five other siblings from his paternal side. Mbatha described his upbringing as one that was pretty simple and with not many complications.
He attended his primary schooling at North Coast Primary, and completed his high school education at Stanger High School where he matriculated as the head peer mediator. He described himself as one who was relatively talented, in and outside of the classroom as he performed well in his academics, and the various sporting codes.
After matriculating in the year 2009, he applied at different institutions to study various courses, with journalism not quite being his first choice of study.
“To be honest, after high school I did not know what to do. So I sat with my CAO forms and weighed my options. Journalism was one of the last options. Because I knew I could write, I would do so mainly about sport so I connected the two. Ironically enough, the first thing I was called up for was journalism,” said Mbatha as he reminisced about what propelled him to study towards a qualification in journalism at the Durban University of Technology.
Although many students often find themselves getting jitters after enrolling for a field of study, Mbatha found himself somewhat on the fence about his too.
“I could have gone to the University of Zululand because they offered me something for law, but because they had already taken me here, and because of the process and everything that I had gone through, I realised that this could be my calling so I said let me just continue with journalism,” he added.
He continued with his studies of journalism at the institution, and in his third level, he did an internship at East-Coast Radio for six months where his tasks as a news trainee included writing stories, updating the website and keeping track of what is going on in the world of news. Now and again, he also got the chance to go onto the field and do hard news stories.
Upon completion of his third level, Mbatha realised that he was not absolutely ready to go into the industry, so he decided to do his B-Tech, full time, without working. Following his B-Tech, he acquired employment at ANN7 where he began in the Cadet school and then went on to a political programme called SA Decides, where he and his group were the first to be on the programme and covered political stories, current affairs issues. When he returned, he volunteered and wrote stories for THE NEW AGE newspaper where he wrote sports. Mbatha was given the honour of going onto the field with a sports reporter at ANN7 after which he compiled a script that thoroughly tickled the editor’s fancy and he was immediately taken on board.
When asked to share his experiences on the field, Mbatha said his experiences have been poles apart.
“The first six months of my internship were difficult and were not what I had expected. It wasn’t easy. I expected it to be easier and more free-flowing. In terms of what you do here when you’re writing assignments those 500 to 600 words, but when you get to radio, they tell you that it’s just too long, you have ten sentences and that is it. So now you have to re-configure your mind to that, plus the strict deadlines and a whole lot of pressure- coming up with story ideas, but in terms of my experience now, I am having the best time of my life. I am enjoying it and I love doing what I do,” he added.
According to Mbatha he draws his inspiration from a lot of people who have kept him motivated and also, the different experiences undergone by different people, and his peers more than anything else. He added that his naturally competitive nature also drives him to want to do better at all times.
Mbatha shared some food for thought aimed at students who are in their first level and are sceptical about their choice of study.
“Take a step back, take time and think whether is this really what you want to do because at first year, you still have a chance to decide if this is really for you,” said Mbatha.
He also warned against scholars who wish to pursue journalism, but not entirely out of love for the profession.
“If you are in this field for the glitz and the glam, then journalism is the wrong place. Journalism should be a calling. It is something that you either have, or you don’t and if you don’t have it but you push yourself just for the sake of getting a diploma then you are going to hate it and end up resenting yourself. So take a deep breath, think about what you want to do because journalism is not for everyone. However, I am not discouraging anyone who wants to do it, you will reap the rewards,” said Mbatha.
Mbatha summed up the interview by sharing his hopes for the future.
“My future is very puzzled up, but in future, I want to do a lot of things, but in the short-term, I’d like to go overseas to an overseas broadcaster and broadcast at one of the biggest games or be reporting at the world cup or Olympic Games. In terms of my community, I would like to have enough knowledge to be able to open up a community radio station and maybe after that, a television station. It is important to tell our own stories and not allow other people to tell our stories,” he concluded.
The sport fanatic and sport enthusiast is currently doing what he loves, which is being a sports presenter at ANN7.