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Kate Haberfield: Still ‘Our Kate’

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Earlier this year, Kate Haberfield farewelled a television career that saw her become the first and only female sports presenter in NBN’s 60-year history.

After 14 years of being the face of sport on our TV screens each night, the mother-of-two is launching herself into a new challenge away from the cameras, but for the people of Newcastle she’ll always be “Our Kate”.  

Kate Haberfield has left our TV screens for her next challenge. Photo: Peter Stoop

You only need to type the name Kate Haberfield into any online search engine and invariably the first thing that pops up involves her leaving NBN.  

However, she’s okay with knowing that’s what Novocastrians want to know.  

After almost two decades of being seen and heard on screens and radio waves across the Hunter, Canberra and Sydney, the 39-year-old is comfortable with people thinking of her as extended family.  

“Yes, I still get people wave and say, ‘Hi Kate’ – I’m sure there are some people who think I’m just on holidays and that I’ll be back soon,” she laughs.  

Kate’s last day at NBN was Sunday 20 January 2023.  

When she walked away from what had become her second home for half of her 20s and almost all of her 30s, she knew the timing was right.  

“Sports journalism was something I’d always wanted to do, it was just a long, really winding path and a lot of hard work to get there,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.  

A lot of that hard work was proving she knew her subject matter, despite being a woman.  

“It took a while. It wasn’t anything that had been done before (a woman presenting sport), so it was natural that anytime anyone left, the next male stepped in,” Kate says.   

“It just went that way for so long. I don’t know why.  

“It took persistence. I had to take any opportunity to show that I knew what I was doing.”  

Kate boasts a journalism career that spans 20 years.  

She has played sport, watched sport and written about sport for most of her life, but entering the male-dominated world of sports reporting was a whole other ball game.  

“It was hard. It was very hard,” she admits. 

“I definitely had to fight for it and I think at the time I didn’t understand why because I thought ‘I can do this, I’ve shown I can’.   

“Even some of the men who went before me said they were embarrassed that they had been given the role before me.  

“I think it was just being the first is difficult. Change is tough.”  

The knockbacks taught Kate to be stronger.  

“Everything happens for a reason,” she says. 

“It was so hard but that made me better. It made me tougher.  

“Once I earned respect in the community and in sporting clubs it started to turn around and it became something they might consider.  

“You think about it. You’re at a press conference with the Knights for example and any male journalists who’s also there says ‘mate’ and it automatically disarms the player they’re interviewing. Women can’t do that as easily.  

“I always said to every woman who came into that world, and there haven’t been many, that you just have to know twice the information to get half the respect.” 

Kate Haberfield presenting her favourite football – “the round ball”

Her hard work and determination did pay off and, hopefully, she has paved the way for future female sports journalists.  

“I’m very proud to have that little piece of history with NBN,” she says.  

“The presenting side was always my favourite part.   

“I liked voicing stories, it came naturally to me, I’d always loved it, so that was my favourite part of the day, that 15 minutes, that adrenaline, that telling stories.  

“I know how important it is to the community as well, because it was important to me growing up.  

“We used to sit around the TV at my Nan’s house and watch NBN news and my Nan would call Melinda Smith ‘Our Melinda’.   

“I will miss that part of it, the television side of things, that’s what I always wanted to get into, but I haven’t looked back.”  

One thing that will never change is her love of sport itself.  

“I’ve loved Newcastle sports since I’d go to Knights games as a child with my granddad,” she recalls.  

“I’d sit under the blanket that my Nan knitted, and we’d watch Newcastle at the old Marathon Stadium.  

“We’d sit there all day, watching all the lower grades, until the Knights finally ran out.  

“It’s the coldest place on earth in the winter but we’d sit under the blanket with a hot chocolate that my Nan had packed… and it was the best.   

“I’d get in trouble for waving my flag a bit too enthusiastically, I just loved it.”  

It’s Newcastle’s “other” sporting code that has since turned her blood blue and red.  

“Soccer, round ball, football, that’s probably my favourite sport,” Kate says. 

“In fact, we’ve just been watching a Champions League game before school. We’re all about soccer in my house.   

“I absolutely love the Jets, and we follow Chelsea in the Premier League.” 

Kate Haberfield met former professional English sportsman David Beckham in Newcastle in 2010.

And, when it comes to a favourite sportsperson, Kate’s answer includes two of the sporting world’s GOATs (Greatest Of All Time).  

“Everyone I used to work with will laugh if I don’t say David Beckham,” she explains.  

“When he came to Newcastle (in 2010) I got to meet him, and I had photos on my desk of meeting him and my colleague used to tease me because he got cut out of the photo.   

“But, I’d have to say Sam Kerr.   

“I love her.   

“I’ve been lucky enough to meet her a couple of times when she’s been here playing for the Matildas and before that when she was playing for Perth Glory in what was the W-League.   

“What she has done for women’s sport in general is inspirational.   

“She’s very aware of the role she plays but not overawed by that. I mean she’s on the cover of FIFA, that doesn’t happen to a girl from WA. I think she’s amazing.   

“So often with players who have the weight of that expectation fumble or stumble, but she doesn’t.   

“She doesn’t carry a message… she is the message. She’s great.  

“And, I absolutely love that there are so many little boys running around with a ‘Kerr’ top on.   

“They could choose whatever top they want and there are so many that wear Kerr.   

“That’s where we should be heading; that we’re in a place where boys and girls are just looking at a sportsperson.  

“And, in many aspects of the world, sport can lead change, I think that’s super important.”  

new role
Kate Haberfield at home with with her children Aria, 10 and Roman, 8. Photo: Peter Stoop

Speaking of change, in February Kate began her role as communications manager for Newcastle Anglican.  

The organisation encompasses Samaritans, Anglican Care, as well as parishes and schools in the area.  

The role, she admits, is the result of seeking a better work-life balance, and to date it has been a perfect fit.  

“Walking away was hard. It was a hard thing to wrestle with,” she says.  

“I always felt that in order to be offered an equal opportunity you had to fit into a system that doesn’t actually fit you.   

“But, the system doesn’t actually fit a female.   

“You may be offered the opportunity, but it will never fit a working mother. It’s like being a square peg in a round hole. So, it’s not equitable.   

“It may seem equal on the surface but it’s not because you’re forced to fit into a system that was already working and it suited a male.  

“There’s still that shift that needs to happen in a lot of places to make that system for the individual, not the individual fitting the system.  

“Which is what I’ve got now that I didn’t know was a thing.  

“I thought I was asking too much. The system has to fit each individual. 

“Women offer a perspective that is so needed to business. That perspective is so valuable, but it’s still not catered for.” 

And, what does the future hold?  

“I am looking forward to wearing less makeup, my skin and hair are loving it already,” Kate says. 

“I like that in the role we’ll be affecting change, impacting the community in some way. I like the idea of that and that’s what drew me to this role.” 

And, while she shies away from being thought of as a female role model, she does hope her legacy opens doors for other young women.  

“I’ve always had that imposter syndrome I think, so to be called a role model just feels weird,” Kate says. 

“But, I had a friend send me a message once saying she didn’t get to watch the news often and every now and then she’d turn it on, and her little daughter would point at the screen when she recognised me.  

“My friend said ‘I don’t think you understand how important it is to have your face there, for my daughter and the other girls’.   

“That idea that that 15 minutes at night inspires another girl, even if it’s just 15 minutes, is important.”  

Closer to home, the new role means big changes for the family, too.  

Kate’s children, Aria, aged 10, and Roman, eight, are admittedly still adjusting.  

“They’ve never known me as a mum who doesn’t work weekends or is home for dinner,” she says. 

“This is a whole new world for all of us.  

“It’s a great community to work in. It’s far-reaching. It speaks to me in that way. 

“Bishop Peter Stuart speaks of being inclusive and we have a female Bishop (Sonia Roulston).  

“In the same way that sport can lead change, this can, too. 

“It’s such an important message that an organisation such as the church is moving toward inclusivity and enabling all people to be their best selves.  

“I hope I had an impact in sports journalism… and I hope the same for this role.”  

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