An athletics club determined to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth is appealing to the public for secondhand running shoes. The Bontheuwel Central Athletics Club asks that anyone with old running shoes and spikes donate them, with the goal of collecting 500 pairs of shoes for athletes in need.
The club hopes to reach this goal by Mandela Day on July 17. It is hoped that the initiative will help keep children off the street and away from a life of crime by turning them towards active pursuits like running.
The club was started by Riyaad Avontuur (38), a former drug user who became clean more than a year ago after nearly a decade of tik and mandrax addiction. While in recovery, Avontuur began running with his nine-year-old daughter Nishaat.
“Every day we started to practice on the field, just she and me,” he said on CapeTalk. “Every day kids would come around and ask if they can join us running.”
The club launched in January, and now hosts practice sessions three times a week on the sports grounds of Cedar Primary School in Bonteheuwel. Approximately 70 youngsters are now members of the club.
“Currently, the children in our club don’t have the proper running shoes, they are running barefoot and it is cold,” Avontuur said. “I hope Cape Town is really listening to what I have to say. I am also 370 days away from drugs. This is keeping me going, helping the children of Bonteheuwel.”
There are a number of drop-off sites, including Cedar Primary School as well as at the office of Ward Councillor Angus McKenzie.
You can find out more about the Bontheuwel Central Athletics Club and the shoe drive by contacting them via phone: 0781328551 or through their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BCACathleticsClub.