Champ of sports fitness

2013-10-17 00:00

SOMETIMES changing course in life is the catalyst for fresh, new ideas, with an inspired purpose.

This was the case for Glen Hagemann (48), a doctor by profession. After studying medicine and anaesthetics, he answered the call to pursue a Master’s degree in sports medicine at UKZN.

He is the founder of the schools Discovery Sharksmart initiative and is based at the Life Healthcare Sharks Medical Centre at King’s Park. This is where he consults to the sporting public and the Sharks Academy players while managing the medical side of things for the Sharks.

He has also been the Sharks team doctor in past years and in 2011 formed the sports medicine company, Sharks Medical (Pty) Ltd.

“I’ve always enjoyed sport and after training at Edendale and King Edward hospitals, I never finished specialising in anaesthetics. I qualified in sports and exercise medicine in 1998,” he said.

“I had nine years of full-time study to my credit and went overseas for three years once I had qualified.”

On his travels, Hagemann visited different countries. “I visited Nepal, the South Pacific, Egypt and spent four months backpacking through South America,” he said.

“I was also expedition doctor for six weeks with Youth to Everest. We never conquered the mountain but spent time clearing litter, going to 6 000 metres.”

It was while overseas that Hagemann saw the concept that led to him establishing the Sharksmart initiative in 2001. “While visiting New Zealand I came across their Rugbysmart programme,” he said.

“It’s an interesting story in that due to the influx of big islanders into the country at the time, rugby injuries escalated, resulting in parents not being keen to let their boys play.

“The New Zealand government pays and funds the management of any sport injury and suddenly they were paying too much as a result of players being injured playing rugby. Hence the programme was created, promoting safe and fair play, which encourages people to participate while having a positive influence on the spirit of the game.”

In 2003, Discovery sponsored the Shark-smart project and marked their 10th anniversary this year.

Currently there are 21 schools in the programme, consisting of 18 000 pupils, about 12 000 of whom are boys.

“It’s relevant to any sport. Our motto is ‘Play Safe Play Fair’ and schools wanting to belong to the programme must meet certain criteria.

“They must subscribe to the motto and Sharksmart code and if they meet the prescribed requirements, become a school of excellence,” said Hagemann.

“From a medical and safety aspect, the right requirements must be met at every game and we check on this to ensure the right procedures are adhered to.

“It’s an educational process too, as it keeps the schools up to date with the latest developments in the field.”

Each school has a “Champ” who is usually the director of sport or rugby, who is responsible for rolling out the programme and maintaining its success.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to the school, coaches, players and parents to make sure the initiative works,” said Hagemann.

“It becomes negative when coaches or parents push the limits. Sport supplements are a big issue, with 10 to 25% of them containing banned substances.

“It becomes a safety issue as continued use can lead to ill health. The key and obvious solution is to stay away from these products and focus on eating properly. A balanced and correct diet will get your body where you desire it to be.”

Hagemann and his team give regular presentations at schools, talking to pupils, parents and coaches, educating them on the good and bad of supplements.

“Again, we can only go so far and do so much. Supplements are used on a big scale and have huge commercial value,” said Hagemann.

“Steroids use also occurs at school level and a school can only do what it can to try and rectify the problem. The use of sports supplements cannot be banned and Sharksmart can only educate people on what it’s all about. It’s like trying to ban fast food — you know it’s not good but most people try it anyway.”

Hagemann added that some schools have not been accredited with the Sharksmart initiative in the past because of promoting and distributing sports supplements.

“There’s plenty of pressure involved, especially at schoolboy rugby level,” he said.

“Personally, I feel it’s getting a bit much with players being poached from schools and encouraged to develop before their time, just for the sake of playing a certain sport.

“The bottom line is this … it’s all about genetics, hard work and a good attitude. Like our motto indicates, keep it fair with no unfair advantage no matter how inviting the prospect may be.”

Besides being involved in Discovery Sharksmart, Hagemann consults and conducts annual executive medical assessments for large corporate companies.

He is a respected man in his field, being president of the SA Sports Medicine Association, sitting on the tribunal of the Institute for Drug Free Sport and a research associate at the University of Stellenbosch.

As a Kearsney old boy, he sits on the school’s board of governors.

He’s a thinking man and has an unusual Comrades Marathon strategy.

“I aim to run five races but each exactly 10 years apart. I started in 1990 and did 2000 and 2010. It’s just how I want to do it and it gives me time to recover in between,” he said.

Hagemann Lifestyle

Enjoys trail running and mountain biking.

Follows a low-carb diet.

Favourite food is sushi.

His grandfather was the first Kearsney boy to get honours for rugby, in 1925.

In his spare time, his family is important — wife Sandi, son Kyle (15) and daughter Kelsey (11).

Likes photography.

Music choice is ’80s but enjoys compilations his son puts together for him.

Reads at least an hour a day — journals, health books, biographies, social media.

Enjoys beer and white wine.

Goes to movies about once a year and it’s whatever the children choose.

Has visited at least 30 countries.

Does not play golf.

Hair-Raising Incidents

• Sailing from Richards Bay to Mauritius. Of the five crew, four had not sailed before. Two days into the trip it was discovered the only (non) contact with land was a skiboat radio. Tossed all over the place, a memorable experience.

• Leaving Kimberley at night on a chartered flight with the Sharks after a match against Griquas. One engine burst into flames after take-off and the pilot had to battle to get the plane’s nose down. Luckily landing was safe.

• Tripping the Dusi with younger sister and a friend in the mid 1980s at the height of the ANC and IFP conflict. Got dark and had to walk through Sobantu, a township just outside PMB. Tension was high, people threw bottles and shouted. Luckily a police patrol car was passing by and rescue was at hand.

Advice to Youngsters

Sport is critical to development but must be fun to participate in. Don’t push too hard and keep competition fun and fair.

Integrity underpins everything and defines a person.

Follow Albert Einstein’s quote of “Strive not to be a man of success, but a man of value”.

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