My Bag

Room for more women sports journalists

Sports presenter Colette Wong has many more female colleagues than she did 20 years ago, but she says there can be more

When Colette Wong started out as a sports reporter almost 20 years ago, few women were doing the same job.

"In my office at the time, there were only myself and another female reporter, versus about 10 male reporters," the 42-year-old tells The Straits Times.

But the lack of women in sports journalism did not make her feel out of place, nor did the occasional snide comment about her gender put her off.

The mother of two says she just wanted to "prove I could do the job I was hired for".

"There might have been one or two bad eggs who made comments, but I looked at these as motivation for me to push on and work hard."

Today, having been in the industry for almost two decades, the Chinese-Irish Singaporean says being a part of a now larger group of women at the front line of sports reporting has been her biggest feat.


Colette Wong says she is more comfortable in shorts and slippers when off-camera. PHOTOS: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

"I think it was a great accomplishment for me to have stayed with it. I stuck to my guns and said I would do as good a job as my male counterparts."

Her perseverance is all the more surprising considering she went into the career by chance.

After studying economics and politics at University College Dublin in Ireland, she came back to Singapore in 1995 and applied for a part-time job at Mediacorp, then known as the Television Corporation of Singapore.

"I was just a runner for the entertainment unit. I did odd errands here and there," she recalls.

But a meeting with a producer for the now-defunct TV channel Premiere 12 gave her an opening into the world of sports journalism.

"They were looking for reporters for their weekly sports news show. He asked if I was interested and I agreed to apply as I didn't really know what I wanted to do."

Over the years, she progressed to producer, then to presenter. After four years at Premiere 12, she ventured into news reporting at American TV channel CNBC as she wanted to challenge herself and work outside of her comfort zone.

But after three years of "misery and death", she returned to sports journalism, which she says is her "real love".

She joined ESPN Star Sports in 2004 as an anchor for sports news programme SportsCenter Asia. ESPN Star Sports was renamed Fox Sports in 2013 and Wong is now an anchor presenter for its flagship sports news programme, Fox Sports Central.

  • ON HER BAG

  • This Samsonite bag was a present from my husband. My mother-in-law pointed it out to him and said: "Have you seen the state of Colette's handbag? I think it's time you bought her one."

    They were travelling together and bought this at the duty-free shop in Changi Airport. I like that it is light, waterproof and a good size, so I can fit a lot of things inside.

The presenter, who says she is more comfortable in shorts and slippers when off-camera, is an active jogger and has always been athletic. Throughout her school years, she participated in track and field as well as swimming and also played tennis, softball and hockey.

She and her husband, 47-year-old sales manager Luigi Ferrandi, encourage their two children to be active. Her 10-year-old daughter plays tennis, while her son, eight, loves soccer.

"Being outdoors as much as possible is good for kids, especially in this environment, where they spend a lot of time in school, having tuition and doing homework."

Her children are never far from her mind. During the interview, she proudly shows off a Mother's Day card made by her son this year. It says: "Dear mommy, you are the best mother in the universe. I love you soooooooooo much!"

On the growing number of women in the sports industry, Wong says: "There are definitely a lot more women in my office now. About 40 per cent of the writers and producers are female and the gender split among the presenters is about 50-50.

"There are now recognisable names in the industry like sports writer May Chen from The Straits Times, but there's still room to grow. It can get only better."


Things in her bag

NUTS

I love to eat and end up eating a lot of junk food. I've found that eating nuts is a healthy way of curbing my appetite.

THE GIRL WHO SAVED THE KING OF SWEDEN BY JONAS JONASSON

I picked this up at the airport. I've read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, which is by the same author. It was very light and entertaining, so I thought I'd read another of his books.

PEPPERMINT OIL

I'm quite prone to headaches, so when I feel tense or stressed, I'll rub a bit of the oil on my temples and shoulders and it really gives me a lift.

MOTHER'S DAY CARD

My son made this in school this year. Every time I go through my bag, I see it, but I can't bear to throw it away. I take it out and read it once in a while and it brings a smile to my face.

WALLET

This is a Christmas present from my mum. I like long wallets because I can just slip my cash in. I'm not really a shopper and I'll let things run their course before I replace them. So when my mum sees that I have something that is too grubby, she'll buy me a new one.

EARPHONES

I always go jogging and used to use wireless earphones. But after a while, they did not pair with my phone. So I decided to go back to wired earphones. These are great - they never fall off because of the loop around the earphones - and they're extremely comfortable to wear while jogging.

POWER BANK

I bought this because it is cheap and usually, after half a day, my phone needs to be charged. It is essential.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Room for more women sports journalists'. Print Edition | Subscribe