(Published - 15 May 2019)
What began as a blog intended to sharpen a UWC student’s writing skills, has turned out to be a fully-fledged, credible and accredited publication that offers budding writers and students a platform to learn the journalistic ropes.
Echaphazeni, a Nguni word for a penalty spot, is not just an information hub for men’s and women’s semi-professional and professional football in South Africa and abroad, but it has provided much needed internships to aspiring sports journalists. “Students come to a university for a degree, and when they get to a real work environment most of them struggle because they don't have the necessary skills,” explained Dumisani Koyana, the company’s founder and chief executive, adding that Echaphazeni fills that gap.
Echaphazeni was established in 2018 and offers content on Sasol Women’s League, ABC Motsepe League, National First Division, the Premier Soccer League and national teams. Koyana, a third-year student in BA languages and communication, reveals that he was required to upgrade his blog to a website and online magazine to be credited PSL.
But why the name, Echaphazeni?
Koyana, who hails from East London in the Eastern Cape, says the whole idea is to get close and personal with footballers so they can tell their stories. “As you know that echaphazeni is a penalty spot where players go one-on-one with a goalkeeper, the website gives me an opportunity to sit one-on-one with the players. I get to know them more and they get to tell their life stories about how did they make it and how they are holding up. I wanted to bring something different to what is already out there in the market.”
Koyana brings to the company a wealth of experience, having played football at a semi-professional and professional level for a number of teams, and written for a couple of organisations. Among the clubs he played for are Farouk Khan Stars of Africa, Tornados and Blackburn Rovers, and Vilankulo, who are playing in the top division in neighbouring Mozambique. He also served as a media officer intern at Ajax Cape Town and wrote for Soccer Laduma newspaper and Varsity Sport.
His dream is to grow Echaphazeni to be a popular brand in the next five years and assist as many rising writers around the country as possible. “We want them to use this platform as a stepping stone to achieve their goals.”
But being a student entrepreneur has its own challenges, he found. “For instance, my laptop crashed and I struggle to update content. And data is a big challenge facing student business people. If UWC could establish an office to assist students with marketing and exposure, and make sure their businesses are stabilised, it would be highly appreciated.”