Chadwin Fourie not only teaches laaities how to lift weights, but also how to do better in school and prepare for life after matric.
Chadwin is the coach of the Mitchells Plain Weightlifting Club, and believes many kids struggle after school because they don’t have valuable life skills.
“Within the club’s programme, the children do modules in English, Maths Literacy, SA Criminal Law, First Aid, the National Road Traffic Act and advanced firefighting,” he explains.
“I give them tests every two weeks and once the modules are completed, the children receive certificates from the Western Cape Education Department.”
The 27-year-old from Woodlands took over the reins as coach after Eddie Lewis retired in 2010.
He was introduced to weightlifting in December 2005, when he and his friends visited the Woodlands Community Centre, where the club is situated.
The 13-year old “fell in love” with the sport, and was coached and mentored by Eddie himself.
Chadwin competed in his first competition, the Mitchells Plain Champs in April 2006, where he won a gold medal.
The following month, he competed in his first provincial tournament, winning silver.
“I also took part in the African Weightlifting Championships where I came 3rd and I won my first gold medal for South Africa in 2013 in the senior featherweight category,” Chadwin says proudly.
Since he became coach, he was able to grow the number of children at the club from 1 to 85. Chadwin says he went around to schools in the Plain, speaking to principals and sports coaches to get more pupils involved in the sport.
“We’re not only developing their muscles but their brains as well,” he says.
“If the children want to join the Army, Navy or Fire Department after school, they know some of these skills already, giving them an advantage.”
Shareefa Wilson, a Grade 8 learner at Woodlands High School, is part of the national under 18 powerlifting team and won a gold medal at the South African National Championships in June.
“I joined the club earlier this year, I was nervous, and my body was sore when I started weightlifting. Now it’s easier and I am focused and serious when I lift,” she says.
Twelve-year old Arsheeq Chowglay, who is also in the SA * /18 team, joined the club after watching his older brother grow muscles, and says his school work has improved.
“Last term I failed English, Maths and Afrikaans, but after all the extra tests I did at the club, I am now passing,” he says with a smile.
Both pupils will be going to Potchefstroom in March next year to take part in the South African Junior Powerlifting Championships.