Local surf instructor Alfonso Peters is becoming the role model for vulnerable youth in Cape Town that he never had.
The 28-year-old is a surf instructor at Surf Emporium Muizenberg and has been surfing for over 12 years.
Peters represented South Africa at the World Longboard Championships in March he won the prestigious Tiger’s Milk Winter Classic last year.
Peters had a tough childhood, and moved from Mitchell's Plein to Manenberg when he was young after the death of his father.
It's tough and there's a lot of poverty. Living there [in Manenberg] I didn't have hope and dreams.— Alfonso Peters, Head coach at Surf Emporium
I wanted to be a gangster myself... I nearly went that route.— Alfonso Peters, Head coach at Surf Emporium
As troubled teenager he says he would run away from home, get in trouble for theft. He would later live on the streets and in shelters on and off for eight years.
After he got in trouble with the police, a social worker invited him to a camp that changed the trajectory of his life.
When he went back to school and moved to live in Muizenberg with his social worker, Ryan, Peters came across a pamphlet offering a free surf programme.
I was absolutely hooked... It gave me something to wake up to in the morning. It was my passion and kept me sane.— Alfonso Peters, Head coach at Surf Emporium
Peters says riding waves brings him total freedom to express himself and "leave his problems on the shore".
He reflects on how he started teaching surfing, how he began competing at a professional level and offered advice for young kids needing inspiration.
Take a listen to his moving journey: