If you're a rugby fan, chances are you already know the voice of 26-year-old broadcast sports presenter, Cato Louw. She's officially the youngest female rugby anchor on SuperSport, and also the voice behind the EWN Sports bulletins on the KFM 94.5 Weekend Breakfast Show and the John Maytham Show on CapeTalk. She shares her unbridled rugger-passion and advice for others looking to follow in her sports broadcaster footsteps.
This year marks six years in radio for Hogsback, Eastern Cape born-and-raised Louw, as well as her two-year anniversary on TV. A glance at the posts and shares on her Twitter feed and it’s obvious that sports broadcasting isn’t just her day job, it’s her passion. For example, this pinned tweet:
"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does"
Louw explains that she grew up in a sports-loving family and did all she could to understand and appreciate the pure determination it takes to be a professional athlete. That includes her own fitness regime of running, playing tennis, boxing, yoga, Pilates, high-intensity interval training or HIIT and also volunteering to assist at sporting events, as anything from a water bearer to a directions control officer.
Here, she explains that passion for sports as well as the study and early career choices that led to her current role as sports broadcaster, what it takes to stand out as a female in the sport and broadcast industry alike, and how she attains work-life balance between also MCing events like Woordfees, the MFM 92.6 Awards, Maties Rugby Awards, and the University of Stellenbosch Sports Awards…
Talk us through the study and early career choices that led to your current role as sports broadcaster.
In high school, there comes a time when you have to decide what to study, and my dream was always to be the Springboks’ physiotherapist. I realised this dream in grade nine while I was watching the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
I saw this woman running onto the field and helping a player who was clearly in pain. I thought “Wow, how cool is it that she gets to be part of the team like that?” I didn’t know that a woman could even step into this male-dominated environment back then.
Studying physiotherapy – or in my case, a BSc in Sport Science – was obviously a step in the right direction.
However, life happened and I switched over to a two-year diploma in fitness and nutrition at the Exercise Teachers’ Academy (ETA), and auditioned for the SuperSport Lady Rugga talent search in 2011 – while I didn’t make the cut to finals, the judges suggested I gain experience as a sports presenter by joining MFM 92.6, the campus radio station at Stellenbosch University.
Those auditions I aced, so as I completed my diploma I also moved up the ranks at MFM over the next five years, from hosting late nights all the way through to co-anchoring the breakfast show and drive show.
I fell even more in love with sports broadcasting on establishing and presenting my own show, ‘The Half Time Show with Cato Louw,’ and also hosted the Pink Couch live from Varsity Cup rugby matches hosted at the University of Stellenbosch.
I loved sharing these amazing stories, shedding light on what sport is doing to change lives and of course, showcasing our brilliant talent in this country.
I learned as much as I possibly could about the industry from my five years at MFM, and in that time I was lucky enough to start shadowing at EWN Sport.
Thereafter, they offered me a job as weekend sports anchor for KFM 94.5, and last year I joined Cape Talk’s Drive Show with John Maytham.
My TV role complements what I do on radio, as I started working at SuperSport after they held auditions for new Varsity Cup presenters at the end of 2016. I took a chance, flew up to Joburg and made the cut.
I was ecstatic to work for them, as it’s always been a goal to get to our “World of Champions”. I have since covered tournaments across the country like the Varsity Cup, SuperSport Rugby Challenge, Currie Cup and Craven Week.
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What does it take to stand out as a female, first in the sport industry and second in broadcasting?
Firstly, in the sporting community – know your stuff! I’ve always said: “I don’t just want to talk the talk, I want to walk the walk.” That’s why I studied sport in all its spheres; I wanted to know all aspects of it. I believe that helps, although there are and always will be doubters, but as women, we can handle whatever is thrown at us.
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Apply your passion and the doors will open for you. As an example, I asked to shadow at EWN Sport while working at MFM. I emailed the editor and he said I could shadow him for a few days.
I wanted to make sure MFM’s sport was up to date and that we are on par with commercial stations, which resulted in the job I have now. So, be proactive.
Share a few of the specific challenges you’ve faced so far in your career.
Not being taken seriously is a very big one for me, whether it’s because of me being a woman or because of my personality. It’s not a pleasant feeling knowing what you bring to the table, and people tend to overlook you because you don’t fit into their perception of a sports anchor or whatever. So, at the moment, I’m very blessed to have two jobs in sports broadcasting. It’s all worth it!
How do you attain work-life balance?
This is going to sound like a cliche: which it probably is… but my job doesn’t feel like a job.
I really love what I do. I’m able to live my passion and that helps with keeping the balance. Although there are some days you feel overworked, especially when the Springboks are losing!
A good gym session or a weekend away with friends always helps.
What advice would you give to others, looking to follow in your footsteps?
Try everything until you find what you love, then run with it.
If it’s sport: gain as much knowledge as you can. Watch it, live it, chat about it, take part in it. Then you ask yourself, “Where do I want to work or be one day?” Then devise a plan to get there.
No one suddenly reaches their goal. Even though sometimes it feels that way, they work towards it. Then you put your head down and you work very hard every day to get there.
Seems Louw has well on her way to reaching her goal of hosting and presenting her own sports lifestyle TV show on SuperSport and exploring every corner of the world in search of the finest cup of coffee. Visit the Primedia Broadcasting press office and keep up with Louw on the following social media channels: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com and one of our Lifestyle contributors. She is passionate about issues of inclusion, equality and diversity and was the only SA finalist shortlisted for the Women in Marketing #WIMawards2017. She's also on the 2018 Women in Marketing: Africa advisory panel, an #Inspiring50 nominee, and can be reached at ...
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