We need to take sports serious the way we take oil —Amarachi Uma, sports broadcaster and career coach
Amarachi Nina Uma is a sports presenter with Brila FM, a personal development coach, and the author of ‘UnMask: Your complete guide to self-discovery and purpose’. In this interview by KINGSLEY ALUMONA, she speaks about her journey into sports broadcasting, her work at Brila, the kind of radio station she would like to own, sports betting, the Nigerian sports industry, among others.
Why did you choose to practise broadcasting, and how long have you been in the media industry?
I have been in the broadcast media for four years, as a full-time job. At first, I didn’t have plans to practice broadcasting. I felt it was an in-born thing—I love to talk and make people feel good. But, then, I wanted to study law and become a lawyer. I studied mass communication, but I didn’t know I’ll go into broadcast industry. In my master’s degree, I specialised in health communication and public relations. I eventually got into broadcast industry because I’m passionate about reaching out to people and keeping them informed. Radio gives me the platform to reach out to people, while doing what I love. That’s why I went into the broadcast industry. Aside this, I’ve always admired broadcast media personalities like Funmi Iyanda. I hoped to be like her one day, though not full-time.
You currently work with Brila FM (a sports radio station). Did you have a speciality or training in sports broadcasting prior to Brila?
I didn’t particularly have prior sports training. In fact, I’ve never dreamt of or imagined that one day I’ll be doing sports show or sports presentation on air. It’s one area I hated so much. I practically tune off from any radio station I tuned in to once they start their sports show (laughs).
How is your experience at Brila so far?
Honestly, it has been fantastic, fun-filled and thrilling. I’ve come to love it so much that I look forward to connecting to sports fans on air every day. But it wasn’t like this in the beginning. I’m a personal development coach, and switching to sports, especially an area where I didn’t have passion for at that time, was war. There were times I was unmotivated, times I felt like giving up, but I had people who believed in me, especially my husband. He took me on a personal sports coaching process, monitored my presentations, and forced me to watch matches. Today, I look back and I’m glad I didn’t quit when I wasn’t enjoying it.
What programme do you anchor at Brila? And, in what ways do you make the programme interesting, educative and memorable?
I anchor the ‘Beyond Borders’ sports programme, weekdays 12noon to 5pm and on Saturdays 4pm to 9pm. I do pidgin sports presentation, and I make it fun and educative with my style of presentation and use of language. I’m known as ‘your mummy on radio’—Mummy Nina. So, I assume the role of a mother. You hear some of my fans say ‘I’m mummy Nina’s first son’, ‘Mummy Nina’s last born’, Mummy Nina’s daughter’, etc. The idea is to make everyone think we’re family. Sports fans can be very emotional and sometimes aggressive. This approach teaches them tolerance, the way they would accept and tolerate their family members at home.
I also twist sports stories to bring out office relationship skills, family relationship strategies and personal development strategies which help and equip listeners with life skills that help them make progress in their businesses and careers. Also, my use of language is laced with comic slangs and street language popular among people domiciled in and around the area where our station is located. So, once you tune in, you will laugh, learn and get informed too.
Before your engagement with Brila, which other media house(s) did you work for? And how did they contribute to the advancement of your skills and career?
I worked with Radio Nigeria Pacesetter FM in Umuahia before graduation and worked with Wazobia FM in Onitsha for more than two years. They one way or the other contributed to my growth. In these places, I had no business with sports presentation—I did more of news-orientated, career-based and relationship-growth shows. I actually acquired pidgin presentation skill in my former work place. I was a more English presenter than pidgin—but now, I can do both confidently, including Igbo presentation, depending on what the media house wants, plus the location of the media house.
Have you thought of owning your own radio station? If you were to own one, what would be its core mission?
Oh, yes (laughs). Definitely, I have. As a child, I always wanted to own a radio station that promotes gospel tunes, gives voice to the down-trodden in the society, and focuses on the growth of people. Well, I’m passionate about helping people discover their uniqueness, gain clarity of purpose and live their passion.
The core vision of the radio station would be to help people understand who they are, who they are called to be—as a lot of people don’t even know why they are on earth—and help them find direction, and teach them how to leverage on their skills and live their best life.
These days, sports—especially football—are associated with serious betting and gambling. What is your take on this?
Just the way some products have warnings, betting has its own—you see things like we discourage underage betting, do not bet if you are under 18, and the like. Just like they say “smokers are liable to die young” or alcohol warnings that says “not to be sold to persons under 18.” All these warnings don’t stop the sales of these products. Betting is someone’s business, that’s all I can say.
Local sports engagement and investment are almost at a dismal stage in Nigeria. What do you think could be done to improve and scale up local sports innovation in the country?
We need to take sports serious the way we take oil serious in this country. If we give it the attention we give other sectors, it’ll sell. Sports is a big business. However, in Nigeria, it looks like an entertainment only, while we neglect its business angle. It’s appalling that you can’t even watch your local matches on national television on match days. How can investors invest in what they can’t see? We need to package our sports and league games in an attractive manner. We’ve highly skilled players at home and abroad who’re doing very well. If individuals can push in resources into this and rebrand it, our league games will attract global attention. I believe this.
You recently published the book ‘UnMask: Your complete guide to self-discovery and purpose’. Briefly tell us about the book and why you wrote it.
‘UnMask’ is really not so new. I wrote it in June 2020 and it was released on 1st July 2020. ‘UnMask’ is carefully written and packaged to help people find their way and to live their passion. It has all the answers to the ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I called to do?’ questions. I outlined and explained proven principles and guidelines that’ll help people understand who they are, and what their purpose are. It shows them the difference in living their purpose here on earth.
What kind of lessons do you want young girls and women to learn from your career journey and work?
I want them to learn consistency and patience. There’s no magic to success in any field. In any field you find yourself in, maintaining a positive mindset is a key to winning and achieving success. I usually say we’re our own limitation. Dear young girls and women, nobody is holding you down. There’s no job or field that is male-centric. It looked like men-only job because you haven’t showed up. You need the ‘I can do it and I’m capable’ mentality to scale through life. Everything is possible to him/her that believes. The question is: Do you believe in yourself?
Where do you see yourself and career in five years? And what do you like doing at your leisure?
In five years, I would have been able to carry out some sensitisation and awareness campaign for primary school children, girls in particular, on different sporting activities. I want to catch them young and mentor them. This is in addition to the current programmes I host, Onitsha Step Up Conference, and LoveSexTra. At leisure, I write, surf the internet, listen to different radio stations, and cook any new dish. I love cooking and reading books too.
Tell us about your family and how they support the work you do?
I’m a mom of three cuties. My oldest child will be turning 8 soon. I’ve a very supportive husband who pushes me beyond my limits and stretches me to become better. And, yes, my husband loves sports. He is a fan of Real Madrid. As a matter of fact, he was my personal sports coach when I switched to Brila FM. I’m grateful for the gift of my family. They make the work easier.