QT Sports Director Basia Michaels’ football career has been nothing short of extraordinary. From being a professional athlete at the University of Johannesburg’s ladies team to becoming a FIFA accredited football agent, Basia knows more about the beautiful game than most. A Jill of all trades, Basia is also a law graduate who served as an admitted attorney before making a career transition and pursuing her passion for football as an agent. Boasting extensive experience in working with prolific football players such as Thapelo Morena, Kennedy Mweene and Bathusi Aubaas, the football agent is undisputedly an industry mogul. A tenacious trailblazer, the player’s manager made headlines after passing the world’s first ever FIFA Agent Examination earlier this year. Furthermore, only 52% of the exam's candidates were triumphant, positioning Basia as an industry thought leader.
With the football fraternity being notoriously male-dominated, astounding female professionals such as Basia are a breath of fresh air. We caught up with Basia to talk all things women's football, mentorship and everything in between. Hearty congratulations to you for passing the FIFA Agent Exam. What was your reaction to receiving the news? I was elated by the news. The exam was challenging and tested my knowledge about the field extensively. However, I am glad that I took the exam because I have been a football agent for many years, and it serves me well to know the rules and regulations of the industry. I also think FIFA’s decision to regulate the football agent industry through the exam is a step in the right direction because it fosters integrity and ethical behaviour.Tell us about your journey in football considering that you were a pro athlete before becoming a football agent. How did it all begin? It all began with a young girl having a dream and great passion for football. I played for UJ Ladies and received a scholarship which enabled me to study law at the university. After graduating, I became an admitted attorney and found my way back to football through the company I worked for at the time. Eventually, my path led me to Highlands Park where I met a gentleman named Floyd Mbele who gave me some of my first few clients and advised me on how to go about managing them. I then met TS Galaxy FC owner, Tim Sukazi who has played a pivotal role in my career as a football agent.Has your experience as a former admitted attorney help you in your occupation as a football agent? My experience as a lawyer has played a big role in my current occupation as a football agent. Because of my broad knowledge of the law, I am able to read contracts between football stakeholders and negotiate for the best outcome for the relevant parties. However, you don’t have to be a lawyer to become a football agent. With that said, I still think it is important to be a professional with an understanding that people’s lives and livelihoods are dependent on the decisions that the players make.Did you have a mentor when you were starting out as a football agent? I have had multiple mentors throughout my career including Nomsa Mahlangu, Tim Sukazi and Floyd Mbele, among others. I believe that mentorship is very important. Receiving guidance from industry veterans is very helpful and can help us make better decisions. There has been a village of people who have believed in me and helped in my growth. My parents and my partner have also played an instrumental role in my career success.What personal characteristics/ traits would you say are the most important for one to possess in your line of work? Compassion is at the top of the list. It is very important to be empathetic to players and their backgrounds. We all come from different backgrounds, and it serves us best to acknowledge and respect that. Patience is another important attribute to have when dealing with footballers because being in the limelight is difficult. Negotiation and other aspects are important, but you also need to be a shoulder to cry on.The football industry is male dominated. How do you navigate stereotypes as a woman in the field? When it comes to gender parity, it is very important to keep going even during tough times. As a woman in any male dominated industry, working twice as hard is inevitable. The goal is not to give up when the going gets tough because things do get better eventually.As a former footballer, what are some of the most notable strides you see in women's football today? The establishment of a domestic first division women's football league, Hollywoodbets, is the most notable change for me. During my years as a female football player, there wasn't much structure in women's football. I am happy about the strides that have been made but I still believe that they're simply not enough.The women's game is growing globally but we still have a long way to go locally. What do you think can be done to grow women's football? We need more investment in women’s football, particularly in the development sector. Young girls should be playing football from the age of at least 6 years old. This will prepare them for their careers and ensure that they have a solid foundation. Most importantly we need to ensure that female football players are paid well and respected as professional athletes.The FIFA World Cup has deservedly been sensationalised globally. What has been the biggest highlight for you? Banyana Banyana making it to the last 16 was phenomenal, especially considering that we have never made it out of the group stages. It was such a glorious moment because they are the champions of Africa and I feel like we don’t celebrate them enough.There are many female football enthusiasts who aspire to work in the fraternity. What is your advice to them? My top secret to succeeding is building relationships that are based on professionalism. It is also important to know that overnight success is a myth. I have been in the industry for a long time and have built my career and reputation through years of hard work. I started at the bottom and had to work to make my strides.What is your advice to young aspiring football players for ensuring longevity and success in the sport? My advice to aspiring football players is to ensure that discipline informs their decisions. Being a footballer can be challenging due to many reasons such as injuries and contractual disputes, among other things. The end goal however, should be to keep calm during those trying times and work towards solutions instead of being distracted. It is also important to surround yourself with like-minded people.In parting, Basia shared that she believes football has the ability to change lives, create more livelihoods and improve South Africa as a nation. As a thought leader in the football industry, the football agent also shared that she aspires to assume a decision making role in the South African Federation of Football (SAFA) at some point in her career.
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