African cycling moved to a new level on Wednesday with the announcement at the inaugural CAC Forum held in Africa’s Bike City, Pietermaritzburg, when a partnership and co-operation agreement between CAC (Confederation of Africa Cycling) and the European Cycling Union (the European Continental Confederation of the UCI) was finalised and signed by CAC President Dr Wagih Azzam and his European counterpart, David Lappartient (European Cycling Union President).
The start of this relationship and the formalisation of the partnership will allow African cycling to move to a totally new level on the world cycling stage. With the need to develop and grow at all levels of cycling on the continent, the European Cycling Union has recognised the vital role they can play in the upliftment of standards in competitive cycling through sharing resources and best practices with individual National Federations via CAC.
The agreement between the two continental organisations does not stop with cyclists, but extends to officials, commissaires and coaches. During the plenary session, Lappartient stated that their wish is to see competitive cycling develop across participating African countries.
“We’ve recognised the need to strengthen our support for African cycling. This has been imminent for many years and today was the official announcement and the official signing of this conjunction between the European Cycling Union and the African Cycling Confederation. The objective is to use the experience of the European Confederation to support all the National Federations from Africa to grow and to sustainably develop cycling.”
UCI President, Brian Cookson, emphasised his organisation’s projects already in place within Africa. “The UCI also hosts numerous coaching and mechanic courses. Twenty-six coaches including four women from 12 countries have completed a coaching course just this week. And after each day of racing at the African Continental Championships held in Wartburg earlier this year, 17 mechanics and 25 coaches attended courses led by experts from the UCI World Cycling Centre.
“I’d like to thank our hosts Cycling South Africa who have been great supporters of cycling, in particular, President William Newman and General Manager Mike Bradley for so much contribution to our sport.”
Dr Azzam reflected on the growth in African cycling to date, illustrating that in 1995 there were only 16 African National Federations compared to the 48 National Federations that form part of CAC today.
“We will follow the decisions made here and whether we succeed or not, we need to continue to meet to evaluate what worked and what didn't so that we can grow cycling on the continent. Importantly, there were many people who pulled together as a team to organise this event. We are like a “family”. In order to succeed, we need to work together as a family or a team. I extend my greetings and my thanks to my colleagues as they have made a great effort to support Africa at the inaugural CAC Forum.”
On the success of the CAC Forum and what it means to the National Federation, Cycling SA President William Newman said: “There is a hunger out there from the National Federations judging by the questions being asked. Topics like corporate governance, the anti-doping presentation, the opportunities that are held in partnering with cities and making the sport a commercial viability for cities to actually invest in, seemed new to some of them. We can see that this type of forum is something that is needed. We will definitely look within CAC to see how best we can impart this knowledge and continue this information sharing. For Cycling SA, we are very happy to host this forum and we look forward to further engagement within the National Federations in CAC.
“With the helping hand from CAC and the presence of the UCI top management shows that there is a commitment to taking note of Africa and assisting Africa. It comes at the right time when African cycling is on a high in terms of the Tour de France exploits and Africa must now grab the opportunity to continue on the path of learning and growth.”
Further support was shown when SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) President Gideon Sam expressed delight in hosting international and intercontinental delegates in the country. He said that South Africa is always trying to do better, and in doing so, also encouraging other countries to do the same.
“It was great to have Mr. Gideon Sam present at the Congress showing his support and in his welcoming address encouraging fellow African nations to grow and develop.“
African cycling moved to a new level on Wednesday with the announcement of a partnership and co-operation agreement between CAC (Confederation of Africa Cycling) and the European Cycling Union (the European Continental Confederation of the UCI), which was finalised and signed by CAC President Dr Wagih Azzam (left) and his European counterpart, David Lappartient (right- European Cycling Union President), pictured with UCI President Brian Cookson (centre) at the inaugural 2015 CAC Forum at the Victoria Country Club in Pietermaritzburg on 5 August. Photo: Andrew McFadden/BOOGS Photography