Cycling programme continues to create opportunities for young people
Celebrating five years, the GO!Durban Cycle Academy continues to be lauded for its youth development efforts in KwaZulu-Natal.
The largest cycling development programme in South Africa- with 400 beneficiaries from Inanda, Chesterville, KwaDabeka, and KwaMashu- aged 6 to 18, this joint initiative between eThekwini Transport Authority and Green Corridors NPC, offers free cycling training, academic support and life skills.
The primary objective is to offer recreational cycling at grassroots level. Riders also get to compete provincially and nationally, based on skill and academic results, thanks to the ‘no pass, no race’ rule.
The Head of eThekwini Transport Authority, Thami Manyathi, says the academy encourages active mobility within communities that previously had no access to the sport.
“Little did we envision this would become more than a place to learn to cycle. Through the efforts of managers, coaches and teachers, these youths have shown improved academic results, cycling abilities and greater involvement and commitment to the sport and to their communities,” he says.
Thamsanqa Makhanya, from Inanda, who always wondered how he could join the sport, says: “I didn’t know how to cycle until a friend took me to the academy. I’m now a pro and have taken part in major races with sponsors who support me, not just in the sport, but in life.”
Makhanya says youth are lost to drugs in his area, something he is grateful to have escaped.
Phumelele Sibiya, whose 12-year-old daughter Awa-nde belongs to the KwaMashu Bike Academy, says in addition to gaining cycling skills, her daughter has improved academically.
“The academy takes our kids off the street, providing them with a healthy lifestyle,” she says.
Nomfundo Mtshali (19) says: “I was selected because I was one of the girls who enjoyed being at the bike park and had good cycling skills. I’m now part of the Velosolutions Izimbali team. Without the academy, I don’t think I would have had these opportunities,” she says.
In 2019, the programme expanded to include a musical theatre academy.
-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.