Work is fun if you devote your career to something you are passionate about

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Ponga Liwewe is passionately involved in the world of football as a presenter on SuperSport and he also has his own show, Futbal Africa.

He is also marketing manager for the SuperSport channel and his focus is on South Africa's neighbouring countries.

"After working in football for more than 20 years, it is not just a game to me but a means of unifying people and making them forget their problems," he said.

"The work is quite challenging because of the diversity. Each market - West Africa and East Africa - has different cultures, characteristics and spending patterns. There is a need to understand these markets and what appeals to them," he said.

Liwewe said that in some of these countries the citizens mainly supported English soccer teams, such as Arsenal. In order to create an advertising campaign for these countries, one has to combine the citizens' favourite sport and teams.

"Some markets, such as the South African one, prefer local football, which is bigger and has a larger following than international football," said Liwewe. "Looking at other sports, athletics is big in East Africa, Nigerians love boxing, while Ghana has heavy weight champions. You just know what other sports are loved by people. Soccer also has a large female following here in Africa."

Liwewe has worked in the media since he was 21 years old. He covered the 1988 Korea Olympics, two soccer world cups and six Africa cup of nations tournaments.

He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the Copperbelt University in Zambia.

His love for football has been nurtured throughout his career.

Liwewe worked at an African soccer magazine in London as deputy editor before taking a sales and marketing job at Unilever in South Africa for one-and-a-half years.

He then worked at SAB as a sponsorship manager running the Cosafa Cup soccer tournament.

Liwewe has also worked on the PSL sponsorship for four-and-a-half years. While here, he was doing a part time show on soccer on SuperSport where he later joined them in his current position.

"I am very passionate about football and my main three jobs involved this sport," said Liwewe. "For such a profession it is essential to get international working experience. One also needs to try and adapt to working with different cultures and people."

You also need to understand that different countries have different services and facilities to what we have in South Africa, which means you need to be able to adapt to your surroundings. You must also be very passionate about the job.

There is also a glamorous side to the profession. Liwewe attended the world player awards in Madrid where he met Abedi Pele, George Weah, Zinadine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and Segun Odegbani.

His show, Futbol Africa, was also honoured at the SAB journalism awards for telling a story on how football brings the Rwandan people together after the genocide.

To keep abreast in the industry one should join training courses and interact with professionals in the field.