Former street kid makes waves as champion surfer

2018-11-14 06:02
The talented Alfonso Peters riding a big wave.                Photo:Emma Jane Peters

The talented Alfonso Peters riding a big wave. Photo:Emma Jane Peters

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“IT’S all about feeling free in the ocean” – riding the waves has changed the life of Alfonso Peters, who started life as a street child on the Cape Flats.

Now as a professional surfer, he aims at giving back to his community and fostering the love for the sport.

Peters’ love for surfing led him to be tasked by Waves for Change as head of the organisation in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, where he devotes his time to teaching children how to surf.

This year, he has been invited to participate in the World Longboard Championship in Taiwan, which draws some of the globe’s most renowned big wave surfers, between November 26 and December 3.

“It has been on my wish list for some time. I remember watching it last year and thinking I wish I was there.

“I was placed in the top four in South Africa for the year by doing a number of other surf events around the country; this is how I made the cut for this event,” Peters said.

However, life has not always been easy for the Bay surfer. At the age of nine, Peters ran away from home when his father passed away. He struggled on the streets for eight years.

“I started getting involved in more serious crimes such as breaking into cars and houses. I called the streets my home and the crowd I was with, my family. I realised that this was not the life I wanted for myself. I prayed that an opportunity would come around to allow me to change my life.”

A social worker found Peters and enrolled him in a three-day camp to give him a chance at a clean slate and brighter future. “At the end of the three-day camp the social worker asked what I was going to do with my life. I had nowhere to go.”

An opportunity to enrol in a surfing programme gave Peters new hope and a chance to turn over a new leaf.

“I did not put my name down at first because I was going to become the next big soccer player. However, at the end of the day I decided to give surfing a go and signed up. I was hooked after the first wave and never looked back.”

According to Peters, surfing has become his everyday therapeutic sessions.

“When I’m out in the ocean, I’m left with only my thoughts and nothing can disturb me.

“Nothing beats a good surf in any conditions. Surfing changed my life.”

Peter’s philosophy remains, “It’s all in your mind. If you believe you can stand up and ride the wave you will do it. Never let an opportunity go past. You never know when your last chance is coming around.”


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