Multiple Western Province cross country champion, Amy Abrahams, is determined to use her running and teaching experience to mentor young children at Christel House, as she hopes to inspire the next generation to achieve their goals.
Growing up in Eerste River in Cape Town, an area notoriously known for its gang-related crimes among other social ills, Abrahams lived with her mom’s sister who she says kept her on her toes, as she did not want her to fall into some of the negativity that was happening in their community.
To keep herself occupied, Abrahams started out doing track as a hurdler and later developed a love for distance running.
In 2009, she represented Western Province Athletics at the South African 10km Championships as a junior athlete. She has also featured at the African University Cross Country Champs in Uganda where she placed 11th overall and won multiple Western Province Cross Country Championships.
Her drive and diligence has helped Abrahams follow her dreams and she believes that her story can be a beacon of hope for all kids growing up in disadvantaged areas. She wants them to understand that it does not matter where you come from but where you are going that matters.
Apart from running, Abrahams holds a Sports Science Degree, ASA Coaching Certificate, IAAF Kids Athletics Certificate, Massage for Fitness and Sports Certificate and a PGCE qualification.
Speaking with Celine Abrahams, the full-time teacher opens up about facing challenges to succeed and the importance of mentoring kids from a young age.
Amy, thank you for taking time out for gsport. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Amy Joy Abrahams and I am originally from Eerste River, Cape Town. I am the youngest and only girl of five children. I grew up living with my mom’s sister who kept me on my toes as she did not allow me to become part of some of the negativity that was happening in our community.
Tell us when you started developing a passion for athletics.
I started out as a hurdler, but later developed a love for distance running in the year 2009. In the same year of 2009, I represented WPA at the South African 10km Championships as a junior athlete for the first time.
From the day you started running, did you believe that you could make a career out of the sport?
Someone once said, you don’t have talent, but you are a hard worker. I think that statement made me realize that I am capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. My drive for success and diligence helped me to make a career out of running.
You hold a Sports Science Degree, ASA coaching certificate, IAAF Kids Athletics Certificate, Massage for Fitness and Sports certificate. How has it been juggling your education and athletics?
The above is correct but I also completed a PGCE qualification at UCT last year.
“Last year (2019) was probably the most challenging year for me. I worked during the week as a masseuse, had full time classes and still had to keep running as I was on a bursary.” – Multiple Western Province cross country champion and full-time teacher, Amy Abrahams.
Juggling between sports and education was very tough because you are so focused on achieving your number one goal by completing your studies. Last year (2019) was probably the most challenging year for me. I worked during the week as a masseuse, had full time classes and still had to keep running as I was on a bursary.
I also had to travel in and from Durbanville to get to Cape Town. I used a taxi, two trains and a shuttle to get to campus. I lived with my ex-coach (Cecil Roffey) and his wife (Anneline Roffey). They also helped me a lot, because they opened their house for me and supported me through the most.
What advice would you share with other young sports stars who are finding it difficult to juggle their studies and pursue their sporting dreams?
I think it is important that you stay true to what your goals are and sticking to them. Discipline is an important factor when it comes to pursuing your dreams. Remember you alone are in charge of your destination and no one can determine where you’re heading.
What have been the biggest highlights of your sporting career so far?
Going to the African University cross country champs in Uganda where I placed 11th overall and winning multiple Western Province cross country championships.
We know that in every sport, especially in women’s sport, that financially it is a struggle to be able to fund yourself. How have you been able to manage with it?
By winning a race here and there helped a lot to fund for a lot of essentials. Being able to study on bursaries was also a true blessing.
What do you think needs to be done for more sponsors to back young, upcoming female athletes?
“People don’t realize that if you help any athlete with a small bit, it makes a huge difference.” – Abrahams speaks on the importance of sponsors backing young, upcoming athletes.
People don’t realize that if you help any athlete with a small bit, it makes a huge difference. For example, if you sponsor any young athlete with one pair of shoes, that athlete becomes so motivated that they want to do better. One should start small in order to make room for bigger attractions.
What is your greatest sporting ambition?
To represent my country in at least one sporting discipline.
Other than sports, what else are you also involved in?
I am a full-time teacher at Christel House South Africa. Teaching was always on the top of my list as I want to inspire kids by showing them that they too can achieve their goals, even though they have little. Landing a job at Christel House made me realize that my dreams of inspiring learners can and will become a reality.
Who are your female sporting heroes?
I’ve always admired Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopian Olympian middle- and long-distance runner).
What has been the best advice that you have received that has helped you become a better athlete?
You are not what other people think of you, but you are what God created you to be. Never give up on going after greatness. You are a success and not a failure. You can achieve what you put your mind to.
Why do you think it is so important to take time to mentor and nurture youngsters?
Teenagers get tricked so easily by getting involved in bad doings but I think if you grab them with both hands at a young age and remind them that they can make a success out of their sports, it will definitely encourage them to stay on track.
In the next five years, what would you like to see change in the world of women’s sport?
Media plays a big role in sport and for me, personally, I would love to see that more sporting action from women being televised and get bragged about in the news.
Photo 1 Caption: Multiple Western Province cross country champion, Amy Abrahams, is determined to use her running and teaching experience to mentor young kids at Christel House, as she hopes to inspire the next generation to achieve their goals. Photo: Supplied
Photo 2 Caption: Growing up in Eerste River in Cape Town, an area notoriously known for its gang-related crimes among other social ills, Abrahams lived with her mom’s sister who she says kept her on her toes as she did not want her to fall into some of the negativity that was happening in their community. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 Caption: To keep herself occupied, Abrahams started out doing track as a hurdler and later developed a love for distance running. Photo: Supplied