Cricket commentator’s commitment to women’s sport

Cricket commentator Kass Naidoo is using her voice and verve to level the sporting playing fields for women Picture: Nonkululeko Mbatha

Cricket commentator Kass Naidoo is using her voice and verve to level the sporting playing fields for women Picture: Nonkululeko Mbatha

Published Aug 7, 2022


BROADCAST personality Kass Naidoo’s ability to generate good vibrations from behind the mic continues.

Sky Sports has included her as part of their commentary team covering The Hundred cricket series, which began in England on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Naidoo was a commentator at the ICC’s Women’s Cricket World Cup, in New Zealand.

Having struggled to break into the traditionally male-dominated sphere of cricket commentary in the early 2000s, Naidoo is well versed with the challenges women face in sport.

Emboldened by her breakthrough, Naidoo started the gsport website in 2006 to publicise the sporting achievements of women, with the hope that it would encourage participation and draw corporate support for women’s sport.

Cricket commentator Kass Naidoo is using her voice and verve to level the sporting playing fields for women Picture: Nonkululeko Mbatha

The annual Momentum gsport Awards have since become a fixture in the local sports fraternity, where women who shine in sport are recognised.

This year’s event is set for next month and nominations of candidates in 20 categories closes on Tuesday.

Swim sensation Penny Heyns received a gsport award in 2006 and Usher Komugisha, who is to serve on the media commission of the Uganda Olympic Committee, are among the personalities recognised.

At the 2021 Momentum gsport Awards were SuperSport Woman in Television Award winner, Julia Stuart, SuperSport’s Tshepiso Malatjie and Dheshnie Naidoo and international rugby referee Akhona Makalima, who won the Estēe Lauder Style Star of the Year | Nonkululeko Mbatha

Naidoo believes in commercialising women’s sport and called on sports bodies to make it a reality.

As a show of how to get the commercialisation ball rolling, the gsport Systemic Stairway was launched last week.

Naidoo described it as a “practical roadmap to boost the commercialisation of women’s sport.”

“It comprises eight key steps, which encourages industry to build business acumen among leaders so they play a leading role in ensuring the paying of women in sport is achieved,” said Naidoo.

She said their plan emerged after receiving insights from prominent sports stakeholders, who helped to change the women’s game over the past 15 years.

Banyana Banyana's recent winning of the Women’s African Cup of Nations was a “game changing moment”, Naidoo said.

“It’s the country’s first major continental title since Bafana Bafana won the Afcon in 1996. What makes it special is that players are not professionally contracted, but found a way to win through experience gained by playing in professional leagues around the world, and through Sasol’s investment in women’s football.”

She said the pay disparity between the men and women at a national level in football was another reason why women’s sport needed to go professional.

With Netball South Africa recently announcing professional contracts for 24 players, Naidoo urged the South African Football Association to do the same.

“It has to change if women’s sport is to achieve sustainable growth.”

While gsport has emerged as an important player batting for women’s rights in sport, Naidoo said the past 16 years had not always been sweet and serene.

“At first, it was hard to get anyone involved in women’s sport to speak to us because there wasn’t much to shout about. But we pushed ahead and urged women who were excelling to share their stories and inspire others. Soon, the tide turned and as we honoured more champions with gsport awards, we found the mood changing.”

When Naidoo founded gsport, she was a radio sports show host.

“Whenever I spoke to sportswomen, I heard of the struggles. So, I quit my show and launched gsport with my husband, Ryk.

“With the help of Google, we taught ourselves how to build a website and started telling positive stories of women’s sport online to boost media coverage and encourage greater corporate support.”

The couple invested financially in the project until sponsors started seeing value in their initiative.

Presently they have an all-women team running the gsport newsroom and the commercial and marketing side of their operations.

Kass Naidoo, 2nd from right, and the rest of the commentary crew doing duty at The Hundred cricket series in England for Sky Sports. | Supplied

About her time in the commentary box, Naidoo said: “I get to do what I love.”

She took an eight-year break from cricket broadcasting to have children, but found her way back in 2015 while still being a wife and mom, which, according to Naidoo, was an “extreme sport” at times.

“I would not be able to do this without my husband. He is my number one supporter and we managed to set up a strong support system for our three children, all of whom are budding cricketers.

“I do my best to get home to my family as quickly as I can.

“I have made three global broadcasting débuts in my 40s and I hope that encourages women to follow their dreams and know that they can have a family and hold down a career at the same time.”

Naidoo said she looked forward to more broadcast opportunities around the world.