Jane Kasumba is the public relations and communications manager of public broadcaster; Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, UBC. She is best known however, as one of the few female sports pundits in the country. She told NASSER SSEMUWEMBA that being a woman has accelerated her rise to the top.
Hey what is your claim to fame?
I left Uganda when I was about six months and because my parents travelled a lot, I lived in a number of countries like US. At the age of 14, I was already doing internship at various stations and picking up the necessary skill associated with on air broadcasting. As I grew up, I also started working for a couple of television stations and analysing a few games abroad.
You know I’m also a trained talk-show person. So when I decided to give it a go in Uganda, I had the opportunity to be mentored by Andrew Patrick Luwandagga and James Opoka.
At the time, I worked for TV Africa Uganda so they (Luwandagga and Opoka) gave me vital tips and I also started to understand what the Ugandan viewer wanted. And in mid-2006 I joined UBC and fortunately for me, I was also asked to do the same (analysing live matches). But all in all, I’m always of the assumption that fame is elusive and people should do what they need to do not because of fame, but passion and love for it.
And there after, fame will come. But also fame is very relative because if you are not well known like say Cristiano Ronaldo-who is probably known in every corner of the world; are you really famous?
Have you ever played any sport?
I love sport and yeah, I’ve done swimming and hockey. But because of my busy schedule these days, I’ve not got time to get involved again.
Many fans are left in awe by your American accent, what’s your secret?
A person’s manner of speech is highly dependant on how they were socialised.
For example, a Ugandan person socialised and brought up in Gaborone in Botswana, will be different from another Ugandan person brought up in New York. So in Uganda’s context, a person who was brought up and socialised not in the central business district, will be different from someone who was. So, it is these differences that make us all very beautiful. As in my case, I speak like how I was socialised.
How does it feel to be a woman in a male-dominated field?
I don’t think there is a single field that women can’t do. But for women to attain most of what they’ve done in these various fields, there must have been a lot of support from the male.
For example, if you are a female sports analyst you get the support of the entire crew, director, producer, studio crews who all back you up despite the difference in gender. So alone you can’t regardless of your sex, but together you can.
That is why for me I find it nice to work in a men-dominated field because I’m treated with a lot of respect and the male also treat me as par. When I’m seated doing my thing, to me I cease to be a woman but a person who can deliver the information- say on football issues that the public want.
What do you think of Ugandan sports journalism?
I think it is growing, but a lot more can still be done. Sports journalism today requires a lot. Take a look at say ESPN, the facilities available to journalists in that arena are unimaginable and they take sport to such a serious level that it is able to hold programming on their stations for over 24 hours.
I just wish that in future Ugandan sports journalists are better supported, paid and compare in rank of importance to mainstream journalists.
How do you relate with your fans?
I have got so many people who write to me, call, wish me well and even send me presents. To be honest to you, I’m humbled at all these kind gestures because people don’t have to take their time to think about ‘you.’ Many have done so and I’m deeply touched.
Do you ever get advances from fans?
Yes. Very many! But that is where it ends. I just respect all of them in their capacity as fans and they in return respect me for what I do.
What is your favourite sport?
It has to be football. A good game of football can never be beaten and I think that is why it is called the beautiful game.
How do you research your stuff?
I do a lot of personal research, but I’m also blessed to work with a great director and producer who do a lot of research as well. They ensure that when you see us on screen we look really good and informed.
It all boils down to great team work. On top of the directors and producers’ preparations, we also must know our formations, history, and rules among other things. So I read a lot and also do a lot of research on the net.
What team do you support locally and internationally?
As an analyst, I try to be as neutral as possible and appreciate the fact that another person may not have the same inclinations as mine. My job is to deliver an analytical assessment on the field of play. So for me, there is no team that I actually support.
Have you ever gone for formal training in sports punditry?
No. Not yet, but I would love to go if the chance arose. I believe that the world belongs to those who are willing to learn something new and improve themselves by attaining information.
What else do you do?
I’m public relations communications manager Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and I’m also a lawyer. I won a speciality to be in media law.
How do you assess Ugandan sport?
I don't think there is anything wrong with Ugandan sport. Although I still believe that the structures have to be better defined and adhered to rather than promoting individualism. I also think it is important for people to understand the importance of sports in their communities. Give it about ten years and sport will even be better.
How far has sports taken you in life?
It is a pivotal part of anybody’s life. In the beginning when we were much younger sport was not a commercial giant. But today’ sport is an industry that employees hundreds of people around the world, creates dreams for people who never had opportunity and has brought back an emphasis on the importance of physical fitness.
Do you plan to run for any sports office?
No. I don’t think so. My interest is in creating a sporting line where people can get the best sporting attire.
What do friends say about your attachment to sport?
My male friends think that it is really cool and keep on asking me for my input all the time, while my female friends cannot believe it. Most people who know me personally usually get very shocked when I’m talking about formations and statistics.
Who do you think will win the Premier League?
Manchester United. Just because football is a business and usually businesses which do very well are organised and have got long term plans and some form of stability. So Man-U and their manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) have built a brand that is focussed, dynamic and determined, classic pointers for any winning club.
Who is the best player in the world?
Currently Lionel Messi is my choice, although he has not yet attained the level of maturity on and off the pitch that is synonymous with previous greats like Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. But I think he is destined for the same greatness if he continues to flourish.