I turned each step of recovery into a sprint of success


Riyaad Avontuur has been clean for 390 days and counting. But it’s been a long journey to get here. When he got involved with the wrong crowd and started using drugs, life became increasingly difficult. Avontuur spent 10 years in and out of rehabs and missed out on being there for his family. Recovery isn’t instant. This time, Avontuur needed to fill the days of sobriety with positive intent. He took up running alongside his daughter – an activity that’s given both Avontuur and his community in Bonteheuwel a head start to success.

Every time Avontuur and his daughter ventured out for a sprint, children would approach them: "Uncle, can we come run with you?" he recalls them asking. Avontuur realised the kids needed to occupy themselves and keep away from negative influences. “There's so much more in my community beyond drugs and crime,” he says. By approaching principals in nearby schools, Avontuur gathered learners who were interested in athletics and eager to have someone coach them. Earlier this year, he began the Bonteheuwel Central Athletic Club with just two members. It’s now grown to over 60 children chasing their purpose. 

Running the club has guided Avontuur away from his old vices, and towards a position of leadership. His past has shown him how easy it is to veer off track. But it’s also taught him it’s possible to move on, no matter where you come from. “I finally feel that I can contribute something,” he says. Avontuur is turning each step of his recovery into great strides, both for himself and the kids of Bonteheuwel.

Nuraan Shaik