Love of the game has millions listening: Meet Mzansi’s top soccer commentators

Johannesburg- What’s better than watching sports?

Listening to great broadcasters talk about it.

Sports commentators bring the game into listeners’ living rooms or cars.

Many commentators have their own unique way to give a thrilling commentary, and one of the well-known voices of the beautiful game is Englishman, Peter Drury, who executes his skills through poetry whenever he broadcast soccer games.

The feelings they bring don’t just happen.

It’s the result of talent and dedicated work by announcers working on their craft to reach the top of their profession. But only a chosen few reach the peak.

These are the greatest sports announcers of our time.

In Mzansi we have massive talent of soccer commentators and they are doing exceptionally well using indigenous languages.

Lesedi FM prides itself with the talented veteran Thabo Kofa, who is well-known as Mr Cool. The former police officer, who was born in Qwaqwa has been the voice of football at the Sesotho radio station for 33 years, and he said that his interest for the love of commentary was inspired by the legendary Tseliso Leballo and two late icons, Hlapane Masitenyane and Sello Thulo, who were commentators for Radio Sesotho years ago.

Thabo Kofa

“My interest in sports commentary was inspired by my love for soccer. I would do dummy commentary when there were soccer matches in my village and a lot of people loved what I was doing,” said Kofa.

“I paint a picture of the match to the listeners in order to give them a feeling of being right inside the stadium in order for them to feel accommodated. It also helps to throw idioms and jokes here and there based on what I see on the field of play.”

As the job can be hard, it takes talent and a lot of preparation to execute it brilliantly, as the first lady of commentary, Connie Matjipa, of Thobela FM, puts it. The Phalaborwa-born Matjipa said she had been at the helm of football commentary for 21 years when she
attended auditions for a job as a Sepedi commentator.

Connie Matjipa

“I connect with listeners and prove my prowess through my talent and creativity to give the best commentary. What makes me feel great is that I am showing resilience that women can also bring charm and creativity in soccer commentary.”

Having started his first commentary in 2000, TV IsiZulu soccer commentator Themba Jokozela is one of the powerhouses on SABC with his melodic voice. He said he was a soccer player when he was young, playing for Score Ranger B division, and he would pick up a tin when the A team was playing and start commentary with his late brother, who was known as bro Charge Ntamo.

“I never knew that my playful ways would open doors for me to the bigger stage. As a youngster who loved soccer, I longed to watch it on TV but my family never had one, and I would listen to Radio Sesotho commentators such as bhuti Tseliso Leballo and ntate
Hlapane Masitenyane.”

While on TV football commentators, a youngster born in Monontsha, Qwaqwa, is none other than the proud Sesotho commentator from Supersport, Morena Maphale Moloi. The young and energetic commentator has been at the helm of commentary for 10 years.

Maphale Moloi

“I started my career as a radio presenter at Mosupatsela FM in Botshabelo, however, my passion has always been in commentary as I was looking up to Thabiso Parkies and Zama Masondo, among others. I am an all-round entertainer who brings humour to my style of commentary.”

Ligwalagwala FM’s flamboyant commentator Sibusiso Mashabane has been doing commentary for more than three decades in IsiSwati on radio.

Soccer Commentator, Sibusiso Mashabane

“I started commentating when all our soccer commentators were not available in 1987. This was during the JPS final between Bush Bucks and Orlando Pirates at Ellis Park Stadium, as I had volunteered to fill the gap … Without commentary, football would lose a lot of its colour and flair.”

Through his excellent commentary skills, English-speaking commentator Thabiso Tema, popularly known as TT, is one of the thrilling football commentators who will make you as a viewer on Supersport clench your fist in the air or kick harder when he does his job.

Born in Pretoria, Tema said he started commentating at SAfm in 1999. He later joined the TV side of the SABC that was known as TopSport, now called SABC Sport. “I’ve always had a dream of being on radio and so when the opportunity came to combine my two passions, I couldn’t resist. I see myself as an entertainer before anything else. I don’t think I need to make them feel like they’re at the game, but rather I need to make them feel like they’re a part of the game, as I have to enhance their viewing experience,” said Tema.

Umhlobo Wenene FM sports commentator known for his brilliant commentary on rugby, soccer, boxing, and athletics, Mthuthuzeli Scott is the force to be reckoned with when it comes to IsiXhosa commentary. Scott said that his big break came in 1987 when he was introduced to the craft by the late radio Xhosa sports commentator Makhosandile Ndzishe.

Mthuthuzeli Scott

“I have been doing commentary for SABC Sport for 34 years now. Radio commentary demands some different skills, and for me the most important part of the commentary is the scene-setter. As I commentate in IsiXhosa, I get a better feeling of how to express myself better and connect easily with the listeners through spicing up my commentary with humour.”

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