Ghana’s sports journalism space keeps growing. Over the last few years, the practice has welcomed into its fold, some notable names who continue to excel.
Even more rewarding, is the rise of brilliant female sports journalists, who are competing favourably. Juliet Bawuah, a household name in Ghana is living the dream, and has successfully curated an enviable career that is admired across the divide.
In recent times, she has garnered a good following that speaks to the rise she enjoys. Some weeks ago, an interview with President of the world football governing body, Gianni Infantino, on the sidelines of a FIFA Summit in the North-Western African country Mauritania, got her widespread attention.
The interview, which aired on local television and radio in Mauritania, and also across the rest of Africa, focused on a wide range of issues including racism, leadership, state interference in football, women and youth football development, and the 2026 World Cup bid among other interesting football related matters. Key highlights of the interview have since made it into notable sports websites globally.
Bawuah was one of two Ghanaian Journalists selected for the summit, in a session that saw the FIFA President interact with her and one other.
Bawuah isn’t new to media blitz. Over a career that has seen her interview some huge names in sport including current Liberian President George Weah, she is on her way to what should be a fulfilling corporate high.
Currently pursuing further education at Cardiff University, she has in the past worked for Citi FM, eTV, Metro TV, the global football website Goal, CafOnline, and TV3. Before Cardiff University, she worked with Euronews’ sister station, Africanews, where she was based in Congo. Bawuah also contributes to the Turkish broadcaster TRT and has also made appearances on the BBC.
Bawuah’s time at most of the media houses she has worked for, recorded many highs. At TV3, she helped in building a strong sports programming foundation. The RNTC (Netherlands) certificate holder hosted some of the station’s flagship programmes, and built a solid fan base before joining Africanews.
While at Africanews, she continued to hold her own, building a concrete profile, hosting the station’s flagship programme, Football Planet. She also covered the 2017 Cup of Nations for the network, an assignment he expertly delivered. Bawuah has had extensive experience on the continent as well, attending key CAF sessions including the often-held CAF Womens’ Summit.
The Ghanaian’s rise over the years inspires. In 2017, she was named by the Confederation of African Football as part of the panel of voting experts for the African Football of the Year Awards. In an announcement by CAF, the continental body said it expanded its electoral college to aid a seamless decision making process, trusting the expertise of Bawuah and her colleagues to hold them achieve that.
Recently, she also joined the voting panel for the BBC African Footballer of the Year, which is one of the most respected schemes in the football world.
In the past, she joined some 49 other African journalists to make up the voting panel of the maiden edition of the ‘Africa Football Shop Player of the Year Award’. The scheme, instituted by africafootballshop.com as part of their one-year anniversary, relied on the panel, largely made up of young African journalists, to choose its winner.
Bawuah has herself been once nominated for an international award, making it to the final nominee list for the Sport Media Pearl Awards in 2015, in a poll of some 85 shortlisted contenders. Held at Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi, it was hosted by former Olympic gold medalist Jonathan Edwards.
Charity is central to the Juliet Bawuah brand. In 2014, she signed up to be an ambassador for the UNAIDS’ ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign. She joined a number of known Ghanaian names to pledge their commitment to the campaign, which sought an HIV-AIDS free society. “I am happy I did this; HIV AIDS affects millions of people across the world,” she said. It needs our attention and support, which is why I find the PTG worth supporting.”
The joint campaign was an initiative between UNAIDS and the world football governing body, FIFA, to advocate for the prevention of HIV infection through sports. The local campaign was powered by the UNAIDS office, the Ghana Football Association, and the National Youth Authority, and illustrated the power of protection and fostering HIV prevention and treatment in preparations ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
So what led Juliet Bawuah to sports journalism? In separate interviews in the past, she explained how she came to tackle sports in heels. “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 others do on TV. I was in Kumasi by then, and I knew it was a difficult challenge. I eventually applied to the African University College of Communication (AUCC), then called AIJC. That was how it all started.
I love football. I remember at the AUCC hostel; I would watch football 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 then, really gave me that opportunity and I have never looked back.
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.”
Despite the challenges associated with most careers, Bawuah is prepared to go the long haul. In a blog post after her Mauritania interview with the FIFA President, she detailed why like the many feats she’s reached in the last few years, this was equally important to her ultimate goal of becoming a global powerhouse.
Last week, I travelled to the north-western African country of Mauritania for a special assignment. I had been selected as one of few journalists from across the continent to have a rare interaction with FIFA President Gianni Infantino. The session was to take place on the sidelines of a FIFA Summit, which was one of three taking place in three countries, Mauritania being one.
When the call came for me to join the team, I was excited for many reasons including the opportunity it offered me to further boost my profile. Interviewing the President of the World Football governing body is a big deal so tried as I could to gauge my emotions, I was over the moon. I was going to sit with the man who took office after Blatter’s rule!
As I made the trip to Mauritania from my Cardiff base in Wales, United Kingdom, I wondered what the line of questioning should be and just how I could make the interview worth everything at stake. Together with the other selected journalists, we came up with questions that ultimately did justice to what is now being praised.
There are lessons I took from my time with Infantino as well as what it meant to have that opportunity.
These are five.
Major career highlight
Interviewing Infantino is a boost for my young career. It is the most important high profile interview for me after the one I had with Liberian President George Weah in April 2016.
Bide your time
In the last few days, I have come to appreciate why it is important to bide your time in all things. The Infantino interview was successfully crossed off my list of to-dos, and or story ideas. It was long in coming but all the while that I waited, I knew it would be good if it came through. It did, and I am grateful.
The call for the interview came while I was in school. As some of you may be aware, I am taking further studies in the United Kingdom and been juggling it with occasional career engagements. When the facilitator Aliou called me up, it took me last than 24 hours to confirm my availability. Moving all the way from Cardiff to Mauritania was going to be backbreaking but I took the chance knowing what could potentially come out of it.
Hard work is always rewarded
The Infantino interview like the many high profile ones I have done in the past, continue to inform my position on what hard work does to any dream. The goodwill messages that have come in, go to show why it is important for one to take their craft seriously. I can only be better.
The dream is on
Interview sessions such as Infantino’s, are necessary for the bigger dream of attaining the highest spot in Sports Journalism. I can only be thankful for the opportunity and how it has contributed in getting me closer to the bigger dream.
The dream is certainly on for Juliet Bawuah.