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My Fifa fairytale

05 March 2014, 12:37

EYE ON THE BALL: WSU journalism graduate, Acting PSL General Manager and FIFA Consultant addresses media.

A narrative of the striving chronicles of Walter Sisulu University’s journalism poster-boy, Luxolo “Lux” September and his journey from a remote village in the former Transkei, to the boardroom of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) ahead of the 2014 world cup in Brazil, writes Sinawo Hermans.

Please give a brief history of your work experience in the media industry.

I spent the first few years of my working life working as a journalist for the Daily Dispatch (Sport) – the company that gave me a break while I was still a student at WSU –I joined the Dispatch while at first year – mainly doing holiday and weekend jobs. Before I graduated, they offered me a contract. I also wrote for Kickoff, Mail and Guardian ThoughtLeader, Sunday Times as a freelancer. I had spell at SABC Sport as well.

I left Journalism in 2007 (a big break came) after FIFA offered me a job to work in their Communications and Public Affairs Division- I was part of the team that delivered the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I have worked for
FIFA at several tournaments.

Subsequently, I got appointments to work for CAF, COSAFA and other organisations.

Currently, I’m the Acting GM of Media, Broadcast and CRM at the Premier Soccer League and also a FIFA Consultant.

Tell us about working for FIFA, how did that happen and what's the experience been like?

That’s probably one question I get asked almost every week (been like that for 5 or 6 years now)… I got a call from Switzerland, FIFA asked for my CV… it was Divine intervention because I didn’t know anyone from FIFA. Apparently they heard about me and they wanted to have a look at me… The rest is history.

Working for FIFA was an amazing experience for me. It stripped me of all the misconceptions I had about Football as an industry. FIFA is like a University – you learn new things daily. It is an amazing institution. It is a cut throat world, if you are not good enough you don’t survive there. Period. For me, it was challenging – first to acclimatise – different culture and new organisation. But I knew that I don’t represent
myself or my family alone, I carry with me the dreams of millions of African children who want to one day wear the FIFA Uniform. The thing is, if a French person joins FIFA today, they don’t really feel they represent French population because there are many French speaking people there, but if you are from the Eastern Cape – the rural areas of the former Transkei, you know that you represent a bigger cause – you are there to be a trendsetter – to open doors and pave the way for other generations. 

When you work for FIFA, you get to travel to world – I have been to about 20 or so countries in my life.

What has your past experience from the previous world cup taught you that you will use in the upcoming world cup?

There are many lessons from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Personally, it was an honour to be part of a World Cup in my own country. But it was not always easy. I learned to deal with criticism – not to take things too personally. I learned about planning – about preparing for all scenarios. Brazil is a similar country but also very different to South Africa. The dynamics are a bit different there – so you cannot take the same template
really. But the principles are the same….. 

Did you always know you would make it this far?

Somehow I have always believed that I will achieve a lot in life, but there is still a long way to go. I was raised by my late great grandmother and she taught us the value of reading from an early age – so I travelled the world through reading before I could be in an aeroplane. Whenever I achieve something, I’m never surprised. Some people tell me I’m too young and all … but why is that an excuse or a handicap?

What drives Lux September?

The desire to be better, that hunger to achieve more. I don’t dwell on glory days, I celebrate once and move on because life has more to offer. From an early age, I was driven by a desire to push the envelope and
show people from similar or worse background that in life, it’s possible. So, I want to remain authentic (no such thing as an original person – except you haven’t learned from others) … I wake up in the morning to get closer to my purpose in life.

What would you say to students who have just graduated?

First, they mustn’t put themselves in a box and they mustn’t limit themselves. It is easy to say “I qualified as an engineer, there are no engineering jobs so I will stay home” …. But you can always reinvent yourself – that is the secret in life. I know our country faces the unemployment problem … but we have to think global but act local.

What role has education played in your career?

Education has opened doors for me. I look at people I grew up with who didn’t have the same (academic) opportunities as me and it breaks my heart … Education gives one a chance. Maybe you might not have an
opportunity right now, but it prepares you for that opportunity.

As an alumnus of WSU, how has the WSU journalism department contributed to your success as a journalist?

I was moulded by some good lecturers at the department - it was a structured department. When I was there, there was less disruption. You see, people today demand rights all the time – they strike for rights but
they don’t keep their part of the bargain which is to exercise responsibility.

Tell us about your work ethic.

I work … and work. Even though I was an achiever academically, I taught myself to work harder than any student or person I know. So, a person might be more talented than me but I will just work harder than
them … Also, I’m prepared to suffer and sacrifice a bit. So, I don’t really care about a person’s potential – I care about their attitude and work ethic – in the corporate world where results are everything, talent means absolutely nothing.

If you had the opportunity to influence a crowd of people, what would you say to them?

Well, it will depend on the audience. If it is young people, I will remind them about the painful past of this country – why many people died and why we, as young people in South Africa, have a responsibility
to fulfil the promise of those who shed their blood for our freedom. I will encourage them to find their own truth in life – to be in pursuit of their dreams and goals and to be prepared to suffer a bit – there are no short cuts in life. I believe the younger generation is suffering from ignorance about the painful history of this country – this is because of this obsession with South Africans to “get over apartheid”... I don’t get it... I don’t know why people will want to erase such an important and painful part of their history. I don’t know whose interest this serves because it is certainly not of the African child.

What are your future aspirations?

To make history.

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