Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy coach, Xolisa Makubalo has been instrumental in grooming talented riders in Khayelitsha for the past two years.
Besides motivating and training the cyclists at the academy, Coach X, as he is affectionately known, is a sports science and business management student at UWC.
The 25-year-old B-Section resident describes himself as a child of God and a role model to those around him.
The former SA footballer is currently in Johannesburg to help SA elite ranked BMX rider and Velokhaya member, Wanga Moshani, prepare for the national championships, which will take place in Durban, in December.
In early November, he helped riders at the academy bag three podium finishes and six trophies at the Western Province Point Series race, at the Overberg BMX Track, in Hermanus.
To top it off, star rider Sibusiso Zenani, 13, took provincial honours when he was named WP Rider of the Year.
Speaking to Vukani from Johannesburg, Coach X said he gets his strength from his grandmother, Evelyn Ndzaba, who supported him from a young age and showed him the role that can play in pursuing a passion.
“I am a young man who did not get very much support from his biological parents but a great support from my grandma and uncle Lindile Ndzaba who I will always admire and look up to.”
Coach X said he is a people’s person.
“I am someone who believes so much in community development and changing people’s lives,” he said.
“To me studying and coaching is very interesting and fun because I apply the theoretical knowledge I acquire in my work. There are challenges, yes, in terms of time management but even that I manage it well because of how complimenting my job and field of study are,” said Makubalo.
Coach X is also a promising football player. He played for UCT and is also drafted in the UWC Varsity Cup squad as a midfielder. In 2016, while at UCT, he made the national team at university level. And, in 2018, while at UWC, he also made the national senior team at university level.
One of the reasons why he stopped riding with Velokhaya was because he moved to the UCT residence in Rondebosch.
“Man, it was a great journey, great experience especially staying at the school (UCT) and getting away from ikasi for a change. The studying was great, However as the years passed I figured out that I actually don’t like / enjoy what I was studying. As much as I was passing, I disconnected from it totally.
“Playing for the UCT football team was a great experience, a team of racial diversity and becoming one of the top players in the team was a cherry on top. I’ve learned a lot from the players and management, I will never forget a guy called Daniel Perling, an awesome humble guy with a very good heart. I’ve learned so much respect at UCT through football and created a lot of friendships,” he said.
However, in his third year he decided to change his field of study from environmental and geological sciences and started at UWC in 2017.
This also saw him returning to live at home and being able to coach at Velokhaya part-time.
Coach X said playing football at UWC is challenging as competition is tight.
“So I had to prove myself and fight for my spot,” he said.
“The level of football is great and I got to play the Varsity Cup, where I did well and earned my spot in the SA Senior Team that Won the Confederation of University and Colleges Sports Associations (CUCSA) Games (CUCSA) in Botswana in 2018.”
He said it’s the pure love of sport, and nothing else, that simplifies his passion for coaching and dealing with youngsters.
“Working with riders like Anita Zenani and Wanga that were once my teammates is splendid. We have that mutual respect and understanding. They believe in me and I believe in them as well. So they basically make my job easy and I engage them in leadership roles in the team, making sure that I pass the skill to them as well in the process,” he said.
Ahead of the national championships for Moshani, in Durban, Coach X, said: “We have a goal and we will achieve that goal. The words of encouragement I give to Wanga are that this is not about him. He is here to represent the entire organisation, his family and all the kids in our community that wish to join the BMX team.”
“He is here to pave a way for them, he is here to give hope to the hopeless and he is here for the development of this underrated and unknown sport in South Africa, especially in the black community,” he said.
Coach X, who has been a part of Velokhaya since the age of 14, said youngsters from previously disadvantaged areas will relate to Moshani’s story, as he comes from a similar background.
“They can learn how to be dedicated, they can learn consistency and discipline.They can learn respect and the love for sport. The words of encouragement I could give are that everything is possible; if they put their mind to it and commit to it, they can achieve that goal. Above all, they have to be disciplined, because talent without discipline means nothing,” said Coach X.
Moshani, whose aim is to make the top three in SA, said Coach X is a mentor, role model, friend and a brother.
“He is always there for me, on and off the bike. He coaches me, he guides me all the way.”
“My thoughts about the upcoming nationals are to ride for the whole of the Western Cape, everyone that is looking after me, my family and myself. I just want to make the top three,” said Moshani.
Operations, PR and media manager at Velokhaya, Shaun Doch said Makubalo solves the X in every situation at the academy.
Doch said during the lockdown, Coach X was a part of the team that carried food parcels to families around Khayelitsha.
Doch said he has seen Coach X train riders to be at their peak while he was on an empty stomach.
“I’ve known him for the past 10 years now. He is a real human being, he puts people first. He is a good soul, loves God and serves the community. With kids, he is amazing, to be honest, he revived BMX. He put us as an academy on the map. The word impossible doesn’t exist to him,” said Doch.