My First House - Kass Naidoo, 'I don’t like Killarney, I love it'
Kass Naidoo modestly says: ‘I’m a housewife who makes potpourri in the winter,’ claiming cricket is just a part of her life, not her whole life. Having completed her journalism studies, Kass moved from her hometown of Durban to Joburg in the late 90s to pursue her career as a sports presenter. Her then boyfriend, now hubby, Ryk, moved with her and her immediate family followed later.

The couple initially rented an apartment in Sandton but realised it was time to grow up and buy. It was the sense of space that drew them to Killarney, although it was mostly deceased estates they were looking at in 2001, says Kass. The demographics of the area have since changed from retired old folk to a multicultural, younger, more moneyed set.

It took a few months of searching before they found their current large, two-bedroom apartment. ‘Essentially it has three rooms but we’re using the one as a diningroom,’ Kass says. The high ceilings, size of the rooms and sun streaming into the flat are the things that sold her on the place. ‘Our flat in Sandton was 89m² this flat is 140m².’

They paid R265 000 in 2001 which seemed like a lot of money at the time, she admits. The flat has since been roughly valued at upward of R750 000. They did, in fact, have it on the market for a while in 2003, when they were considering buying a house. ‘But with our lifestyles, travelling for half the year, it makes sense to stay in a lock-up-and-go apartment.’

Her dream home is a big house on a sizeable stand, like those established old homes in areas like Houghton. ‘And it would have to have space for a massive-screen TV!’

The block of flats where they live now has a huge, central garden and pool area which make it feel almost like a park on a Sunday, Kass says. ‘People read their papers and enjoy being outside.’ Kass likes the village-like atmosphere of the suburb, with Killarney Mall virtually on her doorstep, and star-studded neighbours, including Isidingo star Michelle Botes, controversial DJ Phat Joe and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni.

Kass and Ryk haven’t done much to the apartment but they have ripped up the carpets to expose the glistening parquet floors that catch the eye immediately when you enter the flat. ‘At one stage I wanted to sell the place because of those carpets!’

Although Kass has a lot of space in the apartment, she prefers her office to be separate from home, so she has one in nearby Killarney Mall.

She got her big break when she produced John Robbie’s Breakfast Show. ‘He taught me about sport.’ She then joined the SABC to produce sports bulletins for the early morning show but another door soon opened and she made her debut presenting at the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. Her radio commentary debut followed on Radio 2000 during the 2004 Boxing Day test between South Africa and the West Indies.

In October 2005, Kass achieved her biggest dream of commentating on television for SABC Sport during the One Day International home series between New Zealand and South Africa. In 2006, she commentated internationally at the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes spectacular, at the Kowloon Cricket Club.

Kass resigned last year from her SAfm sports show to launch an innovative website, for Girls!, to promote women in sport. ‘I feel like I’ve served an apprenticeship for the past four years.’

Now that she’s going into her second World Cup, she says she feels more settled and grounded. She’s having fun, even if she is a woman in a man’s world. She’s certainly not donning any blue blazers or hiding her femininity from the cameras. ‘If people like what they see, that’s great – but I’m not there for visual entertainment. I want people to listen to what I have to say.’

There are funny moments, like when she told Protea star Makhaya Ntini that he was looking ‘off colour’ and he retorted that he is always ‘off colour’! The joys of live television, she says.

She’s come a long way. Despite being told she was ‘pretty enough to become a continuity announcer,’ she stuck to her guns and fulfilled her dream of becoming a prominent local cricket commentator. And plenty of international networks have since approached her.

But now she says she has other dreams: becoming a mother and being a better wife to Ryk. And growing her website, going on school tours, maybe launching a television show...
‘I’m trying not to plan too much but, instead, to live in the moment and learn to become a better Kass.’ She’s already well on her way.

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Words: Rosanne Buchanan Photography: Gareth Gilmour