Driven by a passion for youth sport development, Coach Mario Baadjies relocated from Cape Town to Springbok, Northern Cape eleven years ago. Now the owner of a gym called Namakwa Fitness and known as a successful athletics coach, Baadjies is living his dream.

Growing up participating in cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis and athletics has encouraged Baadjies to pursue a career in sport, something he doesn’t regret at all. “I was into sport since I was a little boy, so I decided to study Personal Fitness Training at the Exercise Teachers Academy (ETA) and the rest is history” said the former Kuilsriver (Cape Town) resident. He became a coach in 1999 and six years later, on 9 January 2006, he became the proud owner of Namakwa Fitness, a gymnasium situated in Springbok. In the meantime he worked his way up the track and field coaching ranks, qualifying as an ASA Level 3 National Coach and IAAF Level 2 accredited coach.   But the coach remains motivated to bring change in his surroundings by unearthing untapped sporting talent, so he offers training programs to bring change. In an article on News 24, he said: “Every time I drive from my house (In Bergsig) to here, I see the kids fighting. So what am I going to do to make a change? I have to get them away from the bad and teach them something fruitful, and I aim to start from grassroots level.”

“Coming from running and training on a tartan track in Cape Town to just gravel tracks and no standard grass fields” must have been something get used to, but “I have a group of little champions who have not yet discovered their own talents, so I believe God put them on my path to develop them. This means the world to me because my aim in life is to make changes in people’s lives.” He is aware of what is happening in the Northern Cape’s most poverty stricken areas, but he believes in the magic of hard work. “But they must learn that nothing comes without hard work” he added. The article in News 24 further stated: “Baadjies knows all about hard work. He also coached provincial sports, gave motivational talks, offered exercise training to primary schools and creches and worked in the United States as a fitness specialist at one point.”

A bold move to the Northern Cape led to bigger things for a man who decided to follow his beating heart. “It’s not about the money for me. I want to be successful in what I do, the money will be a bonus. Just to put a smile on their faces and make them forget about their circumstances and make them strive towards success” proves to be enough for the sprint and hurdle specialist.

Watch the space South Africa, our next athletics sensation might be from the Northern Cape. With Coach Baadjies leading the charge, the Diamond Province can soon be a force to reckon with…


Written by Reggie Hufkie