The young and multi-talented Durban University of Technology (DUT), Drama and Production Studies alumnus, Reggie “Mapensela” Ndlovu is taking the world of soccer commentary by storm.
Ndlovu’s biggest breakthrough came in 2012 when he was featured in the TV commercial for Kiwi Shoe Polish. “Before the Kiwi commercial, I had spent six months without a job after graduating then I was given an opportunity as an Assistant Director on Muvhango and that’s where I learnt a lot about working behind the scenes. I mastered continuity, directing and being a floor manager,” said Ndlovu.
Even though his first love was to become a professional football player, but at high school he also used to do stage plays, which prompted him to enrol for Drama and Production Studies at DUT.
“I always believed that I would be a professional footballer but when I went to DUT I had to focus more on acting and directing parts. I played a bit for Stratford Residence where I scooped goal of the season and midfielder of the season awards in 2010 but my studies always came first so I didn’t have much time for football. Commentary for me wasn’t my number one priority but when I got a chance I took it and ran with it,” said Ndlovu.
The SABC Sport Soccer Commentator (IsiZulu) said studying Drama and Production Studies at DUT played an integral role in grooming his skills. “It played a huge role because we were not taught acting only but we were also taught how to be professional and dedicated to our craft. Prof Debbie Lutge has done a magnificent job in the drama department because 70% if not 80% of the people you see on your television screens are from the DUT Drama department,” he said.
Mapensela is well loved for his unique style of commentary, and he believes that having a flair and being authentic is what sets him apart from his peers.
“I think most of them worry a lot about statistics of the game and they end up forgetting the entertainment part, when someone is sitting at home they want to be entertained, so I always give out 30% of statistics and 70% of entertainment. Remember as a performer if you have fun the viewer will also have fun, so I think the energy and entertainment is what sets me apart not forgetting the creativity of coming up with new things,” explained Ndlovu.
Having already commentated in some of the biggest soccer games in South Africa, including the recent Soweto Derby which he has already done four times, Ndlovu says his biggest ambition is to commentate for the El Classico (FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid) event.
“My highlight has to be the game between Mamelodi Sundowns and FC Barcelona. I have done games from SAB U21 competition, National First Division, PSL, Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, the Soweto Derby but FC Barcelona was on another level,” he said.
The Soweto-born and KwaZulu-Natal raised Ndlovu also explained what made him choose IsiZulu for his commentary. “I think everyone has to be comfortable in their own skin, not everyone went to school and will understand English so I want to entertain someone who is in the rural areas and make them want to watch football because of how I commentate and make them feel good about their own language,” added Ndlovu.
He encouraged other young aspiring commentators to be authentic, be well informed and work hard in their craft in order to come up with new innovations.
Ndlovu has previously featured in numerous theatre and TV productions, and he will also have a cameo in the upcoming Leon Schuster movie, Frank & Fearless.
Pictured: Reggie “Mapensela” Ndlovu.