23 August 2018 – At the start of the third term, Bronwell Williams took up the position of junior school Sports' Administrator at Saint Andrew’s. Many parents would, by now, have become familiar with him overseeing mini-hockey.
Like Saint Andrew’s Director of Cricket, Gregg Hobson, Bronwell holds a level three Cricket South Africa coaching certification. The level three course’s objective is to train and certify competent coaches who are able to successfully coach and develop provincial youth, academy, senior club and franchise cricketers. Saints is certainly blessed to have two men with that qualification.
And while cricket is, no doubt, Bronwell’s passion, he has already thrown himself with gusto into managing hockey in the junior ranks.
Bronwell Williams, Saint Andrew's junior school Sports' Administrator
Running through his sporting background during a recent chat, he said: "My dad was a cricketer, my uncle was a cricketer, so cricket was in my family, a very sporting family. My mom was a hockey player."
His younger sister also represented South Africa in hockey at under-18 level. His brother, meanwhile, is not sporty and owns a catering business!
Bronwell was born in Paarl and attended Paarl Gimnasium. While he was at school, in 1992, South Africa participated in the Cricket World Cup for the first time. The bug bit and cricket has since played a huge role in his life.
"I fell in love with the game"
"In 1992, I fell in love with the game and from there I started playing it. Then, I realised I wasn't going to make it as a player, so the next option was coaching."
He finished school in 1997 and two years later went to England to play cricket there for the first time. "I came back [to South Africa], played another two seasons and then went back in 2001. That's when I decided that I could make it as a coach," he recalled.
"In 1998, I was part of the Western Cape Cricket Academy. I did my level one coaching course while I was still playing and part of the system. In 1999, I went to England and I had to come back to do my level two. In 2004, I did my level three, which is 14 years ago now."
For nine years, he played and coached cricket in both the northern and southern hemispheres, between Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man and South Africa.
Then, in 2017, he became coach of the South Korean national team! "Cricket is not a big thing in Korea," he admitted. "There is only one ground in the whole of the country!"
Explaining how that move came about, he said: "Through a friend of mine, I have always had these emails coming in to me about positions that are available around the globe. I applied, had a Skype interview, and I got the job. Within the space of six days, I had to organise everything! I had to resign from my job and I was off to Incheon, in South Korea."
The language barrier proved challenging, but after three months he was able to get past it. Then cricket provided him with another opportunity, this time to apply for a Sports Administrators’ position at Saint Andrew’s.
Meeting Gregg Hobson
"I met Gregg [Hobson] through the South African under-19 national coach, Lawrence Mahatlane. I worked with Lawrence in Singapore and then I told him I was moving to Bloemfontein, because my partner had just got a job with the Free State Cricket Union as the ladies’ head coach.
"While we were in Singapore, I had a chat with Gregg and he asked me to send my CV through because a position might become available. The rest is history."
Bronwell Williams' first order of business at Saint Andrew's has been overseeing mini-hockey
Now, Bronwell faces a different set of challenges, including working with young children. Considering them, he said: "I enjoy working with children. It has been a long, long while since I last did, but once you have done that it is like climbing onto a bike again and riding."
As the man looking after sport in the junior school, he wants to encourage participation, but, at the same time, he wants to identify talented sportsmen and put those boys into high performance squads from as early as grade two.
"On top of that," he added, "I will get involved with some PE sessions and take three or four guys to work with them to help them to develop."
"Not a big deal"
Moving to Bloemfontein does not bother Bronwell. He explained: "For me, because of my travels, it is not a big deal to move from place to place and meet new people. I have to admit, if this was nine of 10 years ago I would have been in the corner. I would have been in the back of the class and I would have been in the class all day. Luckily for me, and with my experiences of travelling, it is not a big deal. "
Being at Saint Andrew’s, he will get to indulge his passion for cricket and is eager to work with Gregg Hobson: "I feel that in coaching, it doesn’t matter in which sport, you are there to be a sponge. For me to work with someone else and get and share ideas is a win-win. I think it’s just a brilliant opportunity again to learn. "
The Lindsay Tuckett High Performance Centre is a blessing, says Bronwell Williams
The well-tended cricket fields and the Lindsay Tuckett High Performance Centre provide Saint Andrew’s boys with some of the finest cricket facilities in South Africa, and, said Bronwell, the High Performance Centre is outstanding. "It is another thing that has really impressed me every time I walk past it," he reckoned.
Recently, the Mozambique national cricket team was considering preparing at Saint Andrew’s for the ICC World T20 qualifiers, so Bronwell teamed up with Gregg Hobson to draw up a proposal.
"As soon as I sent out the images, their response was ‘wow’,” he said. The deal was done.
"The kids are blessed and so, too, are we coaches. We just have to start working. That’s what I am itching for. I just want to get in there and go," he ended.