Makhaza cyclists aim to hit the big league

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

Masibulele Nikani, Luthando Gqamana, Vuyo Mavuya and Siphamandla Poto are among a number of young cyclists, aged between nine and 26, who are being groomed by the club’s qualified coaches, to become future world-beaters.

The four were up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to tackle the Tour d’ Plain, which started at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital and of finishing at Strandfontein Pavilion. Siphamandla completed the 20km route while his team mates tackled the more challenging 50km race, following a route criss-crossing through Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.

And, club founder Bonga Ngqobane, said he was convinced this group of youngsters had a bright future ahead of them.

This, he said, was because the group have shown eagerness to learn and, to ensure the youngsters’ enthusiasm was accommodated; the academy has created a number of programmes.

In August, they will host the first edition of the Township Cycling Summit at Khayelitsha’s Chris Hani Arts and Culture High School.

“Cycling entities, public and private companies will be part of this initiative. We are working with 150 disadvantaged children from seven different high schools in Khayelitsha and Stellenbosch’s Kayamandi. There are 10 riders in our high performance programme, and one of the riders has been selected to race in Tshwane,” he said.

The Cycling summit will be an addition to their annual inter-schools Cycling league, where the seven schools from Khayelitsha and Kayamandi will compete for the league title. Bonga, a fairly new academy which was established in 2014 by a group of cycling enthusiasts including Ngqobane, seemed to be highly ambitious. Who can blame them, though? They have, after all, been busy in the two years they’ve been around.

In their first year of existence they took part in the Mountain Bike section of the Cape Town Cycle Tour. They were back on the road last year, taking part in the Cape Epic, where they finished 198th overall. And, Ngqobane said there is still a lot in store, going forward.

“Our mission is to run a consistent and sustainable sports development programme providing children with opportunities to participate in recreational and competitive sporting activities while contributing to the social well-being of the children.

“We are encouraged by the community we serve, the Cycling Federation of South Africa, various cycling associations, big and small cycling teams (in and out of school), the private sector, and community members who wish to get involved in and grow the cycling fraternity,” he said.

Ngqobane described the academy as a “social development programme that provides sport (cycling) and recreational activities to disadvantaged children”.

He said their commitment to this “cause” was made even stronger by the fact that they noticed in the 2014 mountain bike race they took part in, that there was “a virtual absence of any historically disadvantaged Communities’ riders”.

That, he said, encouraged them to work even harder.

“Many reasons can be strongly highlighted for this absence, including lack of resources; lack of interest; limited access to support structures and lack of funding. Not only is there an understandable lack of knowledge about mountain biking (MTB) amongst historically disadvantaged communities, but also a huge opportunity to bring MTB to all levels of society in South Africa more particularly in the township and rural areas,” he said.

The academy also boasts three Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) qualified coaches, a mechanic and a commissaire trainee in Mountain Bike.

* Call Ngqobane on 071 649 6116 for more information