Ricardo Siljeur: Baseball Sensation Turned Biokineticist
Khanyisile Brukwe, 7 December 2020
Sport has taken Ricardo Siljeur around the world. He’s been a student soccer sensation, an international baseball player, and more. And now he’s making a difference as a successful biokineticist.
Siljeur was born into a family of successful athletes. His father, Roderick, was a professional soccer player, and his mother, Sharon, was an all rounder. His older brother, uncles and cousins all played professional soccer, and Siljeur found all this to be a big inspiration. So naturally, he became a baseball player – and eventually a biokineticist.
Growing up in Grassy Park and Crawford, Cape Town, he loved playing hockey and soccer, ran short and middle distances, and did life saving. But at the age of 10 he started playing baseball, something he could share with his father – and by age 16 he got his first South African Colours. By 18 he was touring Taiwan on his first international trip, and that helped him choose between baseball and soccer (and give up playing soccer for a professional club in Cape Town).
“I really wanted to travel the world, and baseball gave me that chance – and the product of this was the experience and the friends I would end up making,” he shares. “Throughout my sporting career I’ve made local and international friends, and these friends model your character.”
In 2000, aged 19, Siljeur left South Africa to play baseball in the Czech Republic in Europe as a semi-professional athlete. His team won the league and play-offs, making local and international news.
Bad Breaks: The Beginning Of A Biokinetics Career
But the following year, Siljeur broke his foot while playing and his family could not afford his rehabilitation. So he rested his foot and saw a physiotherapist a few times.
He spent most of his time reading Men’s Health, learning more about exercise and fitness – and that’s where his love for reading and Biokinetics was born.
“I have a passion for learning and educating others, and to help others I believe you need to read and gain knowledge,” he shares. “Funny thing is, I hated reading at primary and high school; now I own too many books that I still need to read.”
By the time he started walking again he had missed the deadline to go back to Czechia and lost the contract. So taking his mother’s advice on having something to fall back on since one can (evidently) never predict sports injuries, he researched other pathways in sport – and found Biokinetics.
So he completed an undergraduate degree in Sports Science, obtained his honours degree – and after his internship, qualified as a Biokineticist in 2006.
At the same time he started playing baseball again, representing South Africa at various international tournaments like the All Africa Games, World Baseball Classic and Holland Baseball Week. Siljeur also participated in the World Baseball Classic in 2006, where South Africa made headlines (and won respect) for competing against baseball teams valued at hundreds of millions of dollars – while Team SA’s value was zero.
“We played against Team USA that had an all star team with the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Ken Griffey Jnr, Roger Clements – the best pitcher in US Baseball at the time. So it was great to come from Grassy Park and play against your role models. We got beat badly,” he laughs.
Life After Sport: The Biokinetics Business
Having since retired from sports to become a biokineticist, Siljeur has obtained a postgraduate certificate in Business Management at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, various NQF courses in business policy development, moderation, assessment, facilitation and mentoring.
“Don’t let your current circumstances determine your future. Life is hard, and not setting goals and finding a pathway to achieve them is like swimming in the dark,” he says. “You will end up somewhere or nowhere.”
Siljeur dreams of opening a sports school in Cape Town that caters for athletes like himself, encouraging them to pursue their dreams in sport and be academics as well, and not let it be an either/or.
His other goals include obtaining a PhD by the age of 50 (he’s currently busy with his Masters in Biokinetics), owning a professional club, having a consulting practice in athlete development and maybe owning a professional team.
“Oh and buy a house for the family sometime between this all,” he laughs.
His role models include his family and friends as they were always his best competitors and he gives a special shout out to Gareth Jacobs, a long life friend and supporter through his journey both on and off the field.
“Never give up on the dream of being the best sportsman or sportswoman you can be,” he says. “Being successful has different meanings, Mine was simply to travel the world – and sport did that for me. Let fame and fortune not be the driving factor, but rather goals and fulfillment.”
Any interesting developments we should be talking about? Why not let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org? And if you want to know more about what’s been happening in sport, just check out the latest issue of the Cape At 6 magazine. Just in case we haven’t mentioned it yet…