The Sports Eye, since its inception in early 2008 has carved a niche for itself in the genre of sports publication. Now, the Sports Eye will be published in tabloid format. O Bolaji caught up with Kaya Mntsantsa, the proud publisher whose dream of publishing a riveting monthly sports publication is already gathering shape.
OB - Firstly, I must commend you for the success of The Sports Eye, it really made an indelible mark when it was in its magazine format, can you summarise some of its achievements?
KM- My Chief this was a road well travelled, I will always remember our website launch (www.sportseye.co.za), The Sports Eye Launch Cup that saw about 26 teams participating with Public Works team emerging as winners and the famous Caddies Golf Tournament we hosted at the Dewetsdorp Golf Course giving game time to caddies who sometimes are only tasked with the duty of carrying bags for professional golfers. It was indeed the beginning of the much bigger things that came later.
OB- Now you have decided to go tabloid. What informed you to make this decision? Won’t you alienate most of your readers?
KM – The new tabloid version will be bigger and better, we are not new to the tabloid version as The Sports Eye Northern and North West have always been in the tabloid format. This is a continuation of a job well done where we will print one edition for the three provinces.
OB - South Africans are vibrant, fanatic sports lovers, why is it that there are so few sports-specific publication?
KM - I would like to agree with you entirely on this one and the challenge is upon us as publishers especially in the community media to roll up our sleeves and tap into this uncovered market. I must mention the fact that exclusive publications are difficult to maintain as advertisers including government departments are not all centred around sports.
OB - South Africa hosted a superb, World Class event the FIFA World Cup 2010 recently. We are now highly respected internationally for this. What do you think are the positive spin-offs from the tournament?
KM - We are very proud to have been publishing during the time of the World Cup; it was a fantastic moment for us. Our emails were flooded with emails from foreign people wanting to learn more about our publication. It was indeed a moment of glory. It was also significant in the sense that it changed the whole perception of the western world about Africa and truly we showed our best in all forms.
OB – How does a publication like yours delicately balance reporting on grassroots, local, provincial, national and international sporting events?
KM – We always concentrate on local sporting activities including profiling unsung local heroes as you can see in this edition. It is also our belief that local is lekker.
OB -Will you say your publication is mainstream-catering for most people, or mainly for the black market?
KM - We cater for every sporting code and we believe that through sport we can achieve the much needed unity amongst all races, remember the vibe during the World Cup, let’s build from that legacy.
OB- We know that in modern journalism/media, marketing makes or breaks a publication. Are you prepared to ensure that in this field, you are not found wanting?
KM - Printing the first copy of a publication is a daunting task on its own, there are enormous challenges that one needs to overcome on daily basis. However, we are already in our 18th edition and the support has been great thanks to our Free State Provincial government.
OB- How do you see Sports Eye in the long term? Maybe four years from now? How do you intend to grow further?
KM.-The printing of the tabloid version is one of the many initiatives geared towards growth. We are also focussing on brand awareness through community initiatives we have been part of recently. Surely in a year’s time there will be no mention of any sporting activity without our name being mentioned in the areas we are currently covering.
OB -You are well known to many in the publishing fraternity, but how will you describe Kaya Mntsantsa the sports publisher to the world at large?
KM - I have been engaged in printing and publishing for many years’ now. I was one of the pioneers in this field in the Free State and I have always forged ahead. It’s a challenge I took since the inception of the publication that a true publisher is the one who puts the readers first before any revenue can be generated. To me the most important thing has been to see the magazine on the street, I must well appreciate the support especially from the Free State Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, they have made the road less rocky and its my belief that together we can do more.
OB -Good luck in this new endeavour hope it becomes the success it’s meant to be.
KM - We will need all the luck my chief, we have also assembled a good team that will be knocking on many doors. We sincerely hope that they will open. Thanks for the opportunity.