28-year old Juliet Bawuah owns the sexy figure of a runway model but works as a TV sports presenter, producer and reporter with TV3 network in Accra.
She finds herself in a field largely dominated by men. She recently opened up to NEWS-ONE in a rather emotional interview that touched on her journey as a female sports journalist, the challenges, the highs and lows, as well as what the future holds for her. Juliet was as cool as ice and honest to a fault.
Why did you opt for such a tedious career?
You take career decisions based on the passion and the drive in you. Growing up, I never thought I was going to do journalism.
What did you have in mind?
I wanted to do nursing and I even picked up forms for nursing school a couple of times. But I have a phobia for blood, and my mum kept asking me how I would be a nurse who panics at the sight of blood. I think it was the green uniform of nurses that delighted me. Later on, I changed my mind and said I wanted to be a news anchor because I was also fascinated by what I saw Nana Aba Anamoah do on TV3. I was in Kumasi by then, and I knew it was a difficult challenge.
I eventually applied to the Africa University College of Communication (AUCC), by then it was called AIJC. That was how it all started.
Did you major in sports journalism at AUCC?
I loved football. I remember at the AUCC hostel, I would watch football with the guys and watch the game with the guys the whole night. My school eventually gave me an attachment letter to work with TV3 for three months. I spoke to my bosses there to extend my stay so I could help with the sports department, and they gave me that opportunity. That was when we were hosting the Nations Cup in 2008. TV3 gave me accreditation to cover the Nations Cup and that was how I got to know the big names and a few doors opened for me. Nat Laryea, my boss by then, really gave me that opportunity and I have never looked back.
Is it that you love sports journalism or you actually love and do sports?
Well, this is interesting. I used to play soccer when I was in Kumasi. I played area ball with the boys. I did play a few times. Though I did not know the positions well, I played anyway. Again in secondary school, University Practice at Cape Coast, I played Volley Ball for our school and was active. So I don’t only talk, I also play; but it is difficult and not easy at all. I play a lot of charity matches but I am not a professional.
Journalism is tedious. Sports journalism is more tedious. How are you coping as a lady in a man’s world?
It has been a very difficult role for me especially, and I get emotional when I talk about this. I think throughout my career, I’ve always said one thing to myself; ‘never look back’. I remember when I went for the World Cup in 2010, a lot of talks started going round. Unfortunately, some people think female sports journalists are only in the profession to be around the players and the officials. This is an unfair fallacy and a near-insult to some of us.
It is not bad for someone in my position to want to get married to a footballer or a sports person. That is their personal life. But there are several of us who are in this profession to make a statement. To make a statement for myself and get better each day and keep climbing. But it has been difficult. I almost gave up in 2010, because you return from a tournament and when your team did not do very well, the blame game begins and you start to hear all sorts of things that get you smeared.
In 2010, there were times I stayed indoors and never wanted to hear anything about football. But there was one thing my mum told me. She said she believes in me and what I do. A few people encouraged me to go on, and be aware that people would always discourage me but it was up to me to be my won inspiration. I eventually said to myself, ‘hey, to hell with the negative people frightening me’.
One thing I have realised is to let my job do the talking. It has been difficult but I try to take it one step at a time, and take constructive criticisms and ignore all those loose talkers who want to let negativity pull me down.
There are times it gets to me but I have to shake it off and move on, especially if what they are saying is not something that would help me in my career. I now have a strong mentality.
You keep mentioning your mother. Who is she and where is your dad?
Yes, my mother! She is my inspiration. I look up to her. Though my dad is there, I look up to my mother. Oh I am in tears… (tears drop from her eyes) I am sorry… My mother is a tough woman and things that get to me would not get to her. That is all I want to say about her.
Juliet, has the uneasy journey been worth it so far?
I would say yes. Maybe if you had asked me same question in 2010, I would have said no. But I look back and I see how far the Lord has brought me.
Do you believe in God?
Yes, I do. From where I come from, there is no option than to believe in the Lord.
Does that imply you are a Christian?
Yes, I am and I come from a Christian home.
Do you attend church?
And do you pray in tongues as well?
I do. I attend Perez Chapel (formerly known as World Miracle) Bishop Charles Agyin-Asare is my Pastor. And when I look back, it is the Lord that has brought me this far. The journey has been a learning process from Citi Fm, Metro TV to Goal.com where Kent Mensah gave me the opportunity to learn the art of writing. It has been worth it. Before I met Kent Mensah, I did not like writing much but he called me to his office and encouraged me. So looking back, everything that I learnt over the years has been useful to me. It has been challenging but worthwhile.
What are the prospects for female soccer in Ghana?
Talking about women’s football in Ghana saddens my heart. If we do not give the women the necessary motivation, how do we expect them to deliver what we expect?
This is a team we hardly invest in as a country, though we pay their male counterparts as much as a 100K for appearance fees. But our female team players are not entitled to appearance fees. Even with all the circumstances, they still go out there and do their very best for the nation. It is worrying when you talk about women’s football in Ghana
What do you do when you are not working?
I watch comic movies with my brother or just watch sports presentations. I also like comedy programs. I also love music. I like Shatta Wale and I go to his shows. I think he is intelligent and speaks his mind, but the way he says it is what draws the controversy.
Did you ever train in the Netherlands?
Yes, I had a refresher course in broadcast journalism. It was on a scholarship from the Netherlands government. I was there for a six-week course and met journalists from different continents. We were taken through very important training to make us better journalists.
If I should have this interview in next five years, who would I be talking to?
Too many things are on my mind. You would be talking to one of the top women in international journalism. I also would want to do Public Relations for one of the big sports clubs in the UK or one of the big clubs in Europe.
What is your expectation for the headline of this interview?
(Laughs out very loud) I don’t know, but I would not want anything to put me in a bad light. But I don’t know.
Any final comments?
Yes, I want to thank all the people who have been a blessing in my life, my mom, TV3, and Nana Aba Anamoah who has been a huge blessing and given me a lot of opportunities and favours. I am really grateful to her.
It has been nice talking to you.
Thank you. It has been very emotional for me.