The first time I ever heard Gabi speak in public was at the 2015 Oppidan Press Meet and Greet. The editorial team had been introducing themselves one by one, and now it was her turn.
“I’m the sports editor – and yes, I’m a girl. Get over it,” she said.
At the time, that comment appeared totally spontaneous, but I now understand that years of frustration lay behind it – frustration that I, as a fellow sports fanatic and aspiring sports journalist, would never have to endure.
Gabi’s love for sport grew very early on in her life. Throughout her childhood, her teachers repeatedly told her that she had impressive hand-eye co-ordination. She excelled at athletics, but arguably the defining moment of her younger years came when she became the only girl in Crawford Prep Lonehill’s soccer team at eight years of age.
“I caught on very quickly and everyone noticed that I was very able,” she said. “I loved being in a team and there was just something that soccer gave me that made me really happy.”
Years after she began playing the sport, she became an avid Arsenal fan after having watched them together with her friend. In equal measure, she fell in love with the Sharks once her father had introduced her to rugby.
On the surface, her love affair with sport appears no different to that of any young man. However, right from the start, there have been nuances to the relationship.
One could pick them up only if one listened closely to the way she spoke about having to tone down her aggression when joining women’s soccer teams – or how she described herself as “the son [her father] never had”.
When Gabi first came to Rhodes to pursue a career in sports journalism, she was already a woman on a mission.
She wanted to prove that this field was not made exclusively for men.
Now in her fourth year, Gabi has proved herself to be a more than capable sports journalist. Having enjoyed a stint as Sports Editor of The Oppidan Press in her second year, she is now the Rhodes Correspondent for Varsity Sport.
However, despite her success, Gabi still faces microaggressions that are far from uncommon for women in the workplace.
“You feel like you’re being looked down on even though there’s nothing [concrete] that I can directly point at,” she said – adding that she feels particularly awkward as a woman conducting interviews after rugby matches.
Nevertheless, Gabi continues to soldier on. She draws inspiration from the likes of Gabby Logan – an English sports journalist who has long been vocal about gender inequality in sport. Like Logan, Gabi has used her writing to speak out against the status quo – most notably with a heartfelt blog post about sexism in Rhodes soccer last year.
Both through her more political pieces and pure sports writing, Gabi takes pride in playing her part in changing the landscape of her field. Although she still feels anxious before interviews out of fear of not being taken seriously, her passion and determination keeps her going. After all, Gabi sees every good interview or article of hers as one step towards proving society wrong about women in sports journalism.