Women Who Are Changing Sport: INTRODUCING LUNGI HLELA
Businesswoman, marathon runner and now fitness professional, Lungi Hlela is pouring her 17 years of Brand and Marketing experience into something she’s passionate about, encouraging an active lifestyle to promote wellness and balance. Having spent most of her career build many successful brands for British American Tobacco, Hlela is refocussing to develop other great brands in the Sport and Recreation sector.
“In my time as part of the Corporate SA machine, I’ve always had an interest in the Health, Fitness and Wellness space, and the dream to make a career out of it one day. While on sabbatical, I decided to complete the National Personal Training Certificate to become a Personal Trainer to keep myself busy. Since qualifying, I’m able to work with like-minded individuals who are as passionate about sports and fitness as I am, it’s been an energising evolution!” enthused Hlela.
The idea of going into the sports business was born over lunch with Hlela and two other dynamic women who have been in the Advertising, Marketing and Sports industries for many years. Partnering with Lungi is Kathy Crabbe, who has over 19 years’ experience in the Advertising and Marketing Communications sector. Crabbe’s recent focus was running a sport and educational development NGO based in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.
Rounding off the dynamic businesswomen trio is Kandice Venter who has a business degree in Sport, and is currently working on her Masters in Marketing. Venter has worked both locally and internationally in cycling for almost 20 years with many National, World and Olympic cycling champions.
Their collective knowledge and passion for sports and development led to the creation of First Move Sport, a Sports Marketing company that is taking a fresh look at sports partnerships as well as building sustainable development programs.
“Partnering with professionals who have worked in the sports space both locally and internationally is an exciting journey for me, and although it is a drastic change from what I know, I’m excited to learn from them and offer a new perspective.” added Hlela.
With the majority of the company’s expertise lying in the world of cycling, the first undertaking was to launch Team First Move, which is a professional mountain-biking team consisting of two former Tour de France riders. Jaco Venter and Jacques Janse van Rensburg raced for Team Dimension Data (formerly known as Team MTN Qhubeka and currently as NTT Pro Cycling) for eight years, competing in the world’s toughest and most prestigious cycling events. They have now returned to South Africa to race mountain-biking professionally, bringing a wealth of international experience back to home soil. “We are in planning stages of a national development program and I have been tasked to seek out companies who share in our vision of making sports participation more accessible to the youth of South Africa. Most of all, I want to see girls and women of colour taking up space in sport and seeing it as a means of health and wellness, and maybe even a career path.” concluded Hlela. Connect with Lungi on her social platforms, follow her build-up to #Comrades2020 and if you’re brave enough, challenge yourself to take on her weekly fitness challenges on twitter.