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Journo Benny Bonsu talks accolades and her sports foundation

PASSIONATE ABOUT SPORT: Bonsu at work

WHAT A year it’s been for Ghana-born sports broadcaster Benny Bonsu. Named as one of Okay Africa’s 100 Influential African Women and shortlisted for the Women’s Sport Trust Media Individual of the Year for the #BeAGameChanger Awards, this week she talks to The Voice's Michelle Moore:

How did your broadcasting career start?

When Pops (Benny’s brother) was playing in the NBA, I managed his public relations so I was around NBA players often, debating politics, lifestyle and everything sports and they encouraged me to become a sports broadcaster. To be honest I wasn’t convinced, as I didn’t see anyone who looked like me doing this.

With no technical training in sports presenting I had to learn, so I studied Olympian Denise Lewis - picking up tips on how she analysed sports performance and I’ve watched hundreds of hours of Oprah Winfrey for that human side of how to create connection with people.

I'm now described as ‘That African woman in sports who is straight talking!'

At the same time I was developing my career and landed a role as a TV basketball producer during the London 2012 Olympics for men and women’s basketball and also Paralympic basketball.

As one of the few black women working in the UK sports media industry, sports presenting roles were very difficult to find. I took a career break and returned to Ghana where the Modern Times Media Group’s leading channel Viasat One (now Kwese Sport) snapped me up, and this is where I produced some of the biggest television shows across Africa.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

When the first NBA game took place in South Africa I was invited to cover the historic event at the request of NBA Africa and players and this was a fantastic experience for me. I also achieved my life long goal and became a courtside reporter hosting live on TV and online globally for BT Sport for the NBA Global Games London for the Denver Nuggets via Indiana Pacers fixture.

How have you overcome some of your challenges?

Through my writing and video blogs, I engage with young people who strive to work in the media and they and my support network give me strength to keep going. One young woman told me that if I give up then she has no chance.

My Ghanaian roots help to ground me and remind me that I have to fight in my own way to be successful. I had to go back to go forwards in my career – literally I went back to my roots in Ghana to craft my trade.

I’ve had many knockbacks where my confidence has been crushed and my way of challenging the discrimination I have faced was to make sure I was the best in my specialised area of focus – NBA Basketball globally.

We know you are committed to women in sport initiatives – tell me about your Girls In Sport Foundation?

I founded this organisation because I’m passionate about helping girls get into sport. I was inspired to set this up after having attended an event where I heard women on a panel talk about their inspirational journeys working in sport. The Girls In Sport programme showcases brilliant female role models to inspire the next generation of girls to engage in sport.

How do you relax?

Travelling a lot and I love tea, so I am trying to discover the best teahouses around London. But I also have my own fashion label and design and make clothes.

And finally in the words of Oprah - what do you know for sure?

My journey has only just started and as I achieve one goal, the dream gets bigger. I know I need to keep going and not let the discriminations in the industry keep me back. Setting a path for others to follow means leading the way regardless. The focus now is to be the first British courtside reporter in the US for an NBA team.

To visit Benny's official website, click here.

To vote for Benny for the #BeAGameChanger Women’s Sport Trust Media Individual of the Year, click here.

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