Academy of Television & Screen Arts Student Excels in Technology & Gymnastics
“GYMNASTICS SHOULD BE THE FOUNDATION FOR ALL SPORT
South African Gymnastics Federation Junior National Coach, Glen Hlongwane
Academy of Television & Screen Arts Student, Glen Hlongwane puts his rapid rise to fame, from township teenager to one of the top junior coaches in the country, down to his determination and perseverance despite the odds. “Winning is my life’s mantra that has turned my energy into success,” he says.
As a teenager and to escape the hardships of township life, much of Glen’s time was spent watching Bruce Lee movies. He marvelled at the strength and death-defying stunts on the screen. Eager to emulate his hero he joined the local Thusong Gymnastics Club and was soon noticed by Coach and owner of the Club and Wiseman Thwala. Impressed by his dedication and enthusiasm Wiseman asked him to coach the younger members of the Gym. Not long after, the Wanderers Gymnastics Club offered him a part-time coaching position.
Following a recommendation from Coach Wiseman, Glen was soon to take part in the South African Gymnastics Federation’s transformation programme to be trained by a group of top coaches for the national team.
“Fresh from the township and about to write matric I was accepted by the Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre, one of the most prestigious clubs in South Africa. It was intimidating and I remember looking around, being introduced to head-coach Ilse Pelser, and wondering if it was all a dream.”
Glen knew that writing matric was important, but he was making a name for himself as a talented gymnast and the offer of a job with the South African Gymnastics Federation was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In addition, pressures from home were mounting as his father and sister desperately needed financial help.
“It was a tough decision but I had to take it. The standard of education was poor at my school and there were rumours of corruption. I opted for the job and was relieved that I could help my family,” he says.
But another passion was brewing; that of computers and how video and YouTube can showcase the world of gymnastics to the rest of the world. To do it properly he needed a better camera phone and after saving for a year, he bought his first iPhone which for him was the first step in video production.
Since then he has been to four different African Championships with the National team as a Junior National Coach in Egypt 2008, Namibia 2010, Tunisia 2012 and last year South Africa. A trip to Switzerland to attend the International Federation qualification saw him join the throng of 15000 accredited coaches worldwide.
Back at the Gym he was producing videos of the gymnasts working-out, when a chance meeting with Tim Kraft, MD of the Academy of Sound Engineering, changed Glen’s life forever. Unbeknown to him, Tim had viewed one of his videos, recognised a talent and offered him a bursary for the high certificate in Screen Media at the Academy. “I was determined to learn as much as I could. I wanted it so badly,” says Glen.
Today he has a production company, Grip Productions, that videos gymnastic events around the country, some of which have been screened on DSTV. “If I can produce something creative and interesting that portrays gymnastics as a dynamic sport, it will get the exposure it deserves,” he says.