A Facebook friend prodded me to take-up sports punditry professionally-Leo-Olagbaye

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She is, unarguably, the most prolific sports pundit on the Social Media, particularly on Facebook, a platform she boasts cult followership. In this interview with The Document, Ifeoluwa Leo-Olagbaye, relives her journey in a craft that has accorded her respect and recognition.

The profile of Ifeoluwa Leo-Olagbaye appears to be rising in sports punditry, particularly on social media. Can you take us through how all of this started?

I used to randomly write about sports and do a bit of analysis whenever Nigeria played a match, cutting across both genders and age category, but I didn’t give it any serious attention until my brother and friend here on Facebook, Chiemeziem Ayandike, called my attention to the possibilities and potentials I had in this craft. Of course, I never took myself seriously despite several messages to pay better attention to sports punditry and how much my work was being appreciated. Then on this very day, my brother Chiemeziem, commented on one of my posts saying, “This will be the last time I will talk to you about this sports thing,” and that kind of struck so hard. We agreed to talk on the phone afterwards, and after over two hours of his precious time, explaining and guiding me on areas that had made me drag my feet, I finally decided to give sports punditry more attention. The rest they say is history.

 

Is sports punditry a full-time job for you or just a hobby that you are passionate about?

It is absolutely a hobby I am very passionate about. I will gladly do this over and again without being paid a dime.

 

Who are the people you look up to in sports punditry, both locally and abroad?

Honestly, I haven’t thought along this line, though I used to follow sports analysis by Sola Aiyepeku and Fela Bank-Olemoh a very long time ago. Sola Aiyepeku is now the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission and that speaks to where consistency can take you.

 

You are very vast in analysing football and many other sports. How did you evolve into becoming an expert on this job?

So, without being proud, I will say I am a big fan of acquiring knowledge and writing from a better-informed perspective, reason I detest copy and paste journalism. I believe it is a lazy way and any writer must jettison laziness when it comes to their craft. I read very wide before, sometimes rewatch matches, games, and highlights over and again before I start my analysis. Some posts you read in three minutes took me about two to four hours to write. I am that intentional about what I do. One of my personal decisions before venturing into punditry was not to be like every other sports analyst or reporter. So, yes, I put in the required hard work and I am happily learning, because I believe I still have a long way to go.

 

What are your thoughts on how sports like football, boxing and the rest can be reinvigorated, most especially at the grassroots up to the national level?

Simply put, sports should be treated as a business and not recreational. Once we can achieve this, with the right policies, every sport will thrive as Nigeria is loaded with immense potentials in every sports you can think about. We are a multi-talented country.

 

A lot of your fans mistake you for a man, perhaps because of your name and expertise in what you do. Do you sometimes feel embarrassed about this?

I used to just wonder why people easily came to such assumptions, then after several attempts to correct this notion, I started having fun each time someone addressed me as a man, and I sometimes teased some who obviously felt embarrassed at their wrong assumption. Let me just say I now enjoy the anonymity.

 

People know more about you on social media than on radio and television. Is there a plan to take your craft to both sooner or later?

Honestly, I am more focused on learning and being a better version of myself for now. I have only gone on just a single sports radio program, and I had some other volunteers honour the other invites. This was during the #SupportSuperFalcons Project I championed with friends and Abuja volunteers with the aim of driving support and traffic to the MKO Abiola Stadium in support of Super Falcons as they had their final campaign against South Africa enroute Paris Olympics.

 

Please share with us your dreams for the future as far as sports punditry is concerned.

Since dreams are FREE, I will gladly dream about championing a cause for sports as a tool of empowerment for the girl-child.

 

Do you have a favourite sport?

It has to be football and athletics side by side – my excitement level for both anytime Nigeria is concerned is six and half a dozen.

 

Finally, tell us one thing many people don’t know about you.

I am nocturnal; I am better inspired to read, re-watch matches, races and games before writing at a time everyone is asleep.

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