Game changers #2, Tega Onojaife, the journalist that is reshaping women's sport in Nigeria
Tega Onojaife, the Nigerian journalist that is empowering women involved in sports.
by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam
LAGOS, April 2, 2018 - Nigerian Sports Journalist Tega Onojaife is not one to give up on a dream. It is for this reason she founded the Ladies in Sports Conference, which is being organised by her sports communication company, Lavie Associates Limited – a company aimed at improving the society through sports. The LIS Conference, which is an annual event, was born out of the need to celebrate, motivate and empower women who are by any means involved in sports.
"For too long I had watched women's sport and sports women neglected and ignored," Onojaife tells AIPS.
"Little or no investment put in to women's sports and female athletes left to manage whatever crumbs was made available regardless of performance in their area of expertise. That was when I decided to create this platform to educate women on being the best professionals both as athletes and administrators and also to educate everyone involved in women's sport to stop seeing it as a social cause and start managing it as a business," she explains.
From finances to sports journalism
Since making a career switch from financial portfolio management in September 2006, Onojaife has carved a niche for herself in sports journalism on radio and television delivering insightful analysis and presentations on a wide range of sports; basketball, tennis, Formula 1, athletics, boxing and football.
This is what she likes the most about the profession: "Being able to tell the extraordinary stories of the men and women in sports. The work they put in, the battles they have fought and won."
She previously worked with several reputable radio and television stations in Lagos, Nigeria, and is currently with Startimes, Smooth 98.1fm. The dynamic journalist can also boast of print media experience along with having independent productions with Upfront and Personal airing nationwide.
Tega Onojaife and NBA broadcaster Benny Bonsu at the 2017 LIS Conference (Credit: Bennybonsu.com).
“Motivate and inspire”
For Onojaife, the AIPS Sport Media Awards, which will celebrate the best sport storytellers from around the world, will recognise journalists who have "pulled off some incredible feats" in the course of doing their job.
She believes that the Awards would "motivate and inspire" the future generation of journalists to be better "and set a benchmark for the quality standards required in journalism".
Onojaife emphasises that journalists have a crucial role to play in the development women's sports by giving them more coverage on their media platforms including "field coverage and telling the incredible stories of female athletes".
Her message to those who do not think women's sports can be lucrative is this: "All over the world from the African women's championship in Cameroon where the stadium sold out for the finals, to record attendances at tennis stadiums for WTA matches, to the women's UEFA championships, women's sports have proven to gain more audience with more exposure.
"However, like every business, it requires more investment to grow. So if we put money into advertising, PR, infrastructure and development like we do the men's then it would also be as lucrative."
Agreement with La Liga
As a real go-getter, Tega Onojaife does not only take a stand for whatever she believes in but is more often than not at the forefront of the change she seeks, particularly in women's sports and women in sports.
Though still very young, the Ladies in Sports Conference is already making a difference in the lives of female athletes through grants and awards. Also, the memorandum of understanding signed by the Nigeria Women Football League and Spain's La Liga in January with the aim of promoting women's football in both countries was orchestrated by the Ladies in Sports Conference.
Onojaife left the financial world in 2006 and focused on sports journalism.
Every year, experts in various fields related to sports are invited to the event as facilitators. Notable names like Moya Dodd - a former FIFA executive committee member; Chioma Ajunwa - Olympic Long jump Gold Medalist (Atlanta '96); Aisha Falode - Chairperson of the Nigeria Women's Football League (NWFL) and Benny Bonsu - award winning Sports Journalist have been featured.
In 2016, LIS Conference focused on branding, physiotherapy and anti-doping, while last year the theme was "Developing the Women's Game". "This year we are looking at building administrative structures, business models and maintaining infrastructure that are successful and long lasting," Onojaife reveals. "We have speakers from CAS, sport facilities management, retired athletes and the La Liga on our roster. There will also be a grants given to five female athletes to help fulfil their career goals."
The third edition of the LIS Conference is scheduled for June 1 at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. "LIS conference will become the hub for alliances between international sports federations to develop women's sports. That it be the go to forum for the private sector to merge with the sports industry. That athletes and sports managers will have a place to present their careers and ideas to investors. That it will grow from a one day conference to a week of sporting events from trainings to sports business,” she concludes.
Game changers is presented by AIPS Sport Media Awards, a bridge to the future of sport journalism. Divided in 6 main categories, the Awards are a celebration of the best sport storytellers from around the world. Submissions for professionals are free and open until September 17, 2018. Find more and submit your work in www.aipsawards.com