A Bonteheuwel resident who has battled with drug abuse for more than half of his life, has shared how sport has been one of the greatest coping mechanisms. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
A Bonteheuwel resident who has battled with drug abuse for more than half of his life, has shared how sport has been one of the greatest coping mechanisms. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Riyaad Avontuur shares how sports helped him overcome drugs, stay 3000 days sober

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Feb 3, 2021

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Cape Town - A Bonteheuwel resident who has battled with drug abuse for more than half of his life, has shared how sport has been one of the greatest coping mechanisms in his fight to stay off drugs.

In November 2020, Riyaad Avontuur, 40, celebrated a milestone he didn't think could be reached - 3 000 days off hard drugs.

Avontuur started experimenting with drugs at the age of 15.

“I met a lot of friends every Saturday on the soccer field, so one day we went to a party and at the party they had mandrax, ecstasy, and tik. I started doing drugs by the first party I went to and that is where my addiction started. I left ecstasy, and mandrax because mandrax made me sleep, so crystal meth was my favourite drug.”

For over 20 years, he has battled with mostly crystal meth use, moving in and out of rehabilitation centres, often relapsing after leaving the centres.

After leaving a centre, Avontuur took his eight-year-old daughter, an avid athlete, to a nearby field for training.

A man who has started an athletics and fitness club in Bonteheuwel is celebrating over 3000 days clean from drug abuse. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

“I took out the starting blocks, showed her what to do, and that is where it all started. Children would come to the field and ask if they can they come run with us, so I took them every day to the field, and every day, we were growing.”

He now runs an athletics and fitness club, the Bonteheuwel Central Athletics Club, established in 2018.

All services are offered free of charge, with the hope the children do not fall into the same trap he did. Around 40 children are currently training with him and 80 people belong to the club, situated at a field in Hardepeer Road.

He said his role as a father figure in the club has given him a sense of purpose and he intended to visit different schools to speak about his journey and obstacles overcome.

“We are not just here doing gangsterism, drugs and all the other stuff people think coloured communities have. This club is based on a lot of wisdom, knowledge and the courage that we have.”

Club member, Shameez Bennet, 38, said: “Being a part of this club makes me feel very excited, doing fitness. It’s keeping me healthy and fit and opens up our eyes for doing good in our community. Every day, I learn a lot about how to deal with my body by eating properly. Our coach motivates everyone.”

Avontuur said the club needed equipment and training shoes and appealed to the public to invest in the community by assisting.

To assist, contact him on 078 307 0508.

Riyaad Avontuur shares his story and appeals to the public to assist with equipment and running shoes. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Riyaad Avontuur shares his story and appeals to the public to assist with equipment and running shoes. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

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