Cycling South Africa nominated the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy for the prestigious annual Jack Cheetham award. The National Federation put forward a solid motivation to SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee). The DMA emerged as the winner out of 30 nominees from various national sport federations in South Africa. The major benefit of winning the grand prize is financial support of R500 000 over five years from Murray and Roberts.
Over and above the financial reward, the DMA’s profile with SASCOC and Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) has been raised.
The DMA was established in 2006 with the objective of providing opportunities to underprivileged youth from the Diepsloot community through cycling and life skills programmes. The project is based at Northern Farm in Gauteng on the R114 between the N14 highway and the Diepsloot Township.
Besides cycling activities, which take place every weekend, the DMA also focuses on education and encourages the athletes to attend Mathematics and English tutorials after their cycling sessions. This process enhances the DMA’s long-term vision to develop athletes into well-rounded, skilled individuals who are able to earn a sustainable income and provide for their families.
Cycling SA exposed the DMA programme to SASCOC and SRSA when the nominations for the Jack Cheetham Awards were opened, and submitted a detailed motivation on how the DMA would benefit from such an award in the areas where they were experiencing challenges, as well as the accolades and achievements to date as a result of the project.
In supporting DMA’s competitive riders, Cycling SA covered the transport costs of sending them to the SA National MTB Cup Series and SA MTB National Championship events. Team principal of South Africa’s first UCI MTB trade team, Shaun Peschl of Kargo Pro MTB Team, worked closely with the riders on their training and development of skills for racing.
The athletes participate in a number of competitions in two primary disciplines, namely cross-country (XCO) and marathon or stage racing. In XCO, they participate annually in the Gauteng MTB Series, which comprises five racing events including the provincial championships, the Southern African MTB Cup Series (4 legs) and the South African National MTB XCO Championships. In addition to these events, the athletes also participated in the provincial High School MTB Series.