Cycling South Africa is very proud to hear news of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy (DMA) being shortlisted for The Murray & Roberts 2014 Jack Cheetham Award.
The DMA was established in 2006 with the objective of providing opportunities to underprivileged youth from the Diepsloot community in Gauteng through cycling and life skills programmes.
Based at Northern Farm, a commercial mountain bike and trail running facility on the R114, between the N14 highway and the Diepsloot Township, the DMA’s sports development and youth empowerment programme provides its members with educational support, access to mentorship and personal development, and opportunities to participate in recreational and competitive cycling activities.
The project is run every weekend, starting with a two-hour cycling session, followed by team lunch, and closed off with a tutoring class, and currently consists of a total of 70 members, with about 50 of those in regular attendance at the club every weekend. Participants vary in age from 10-24 years old and are sourced from schools in the area. In order to be afforded club membership, participants must attend the club for eight consecutive weeks.
On the competitive side of the sport, the academy’s biggest success story is William Mokgopo, who was recently signed to the only UCI registered mountain bike team in South Africa, the Kargo Pro MTB Team. Following in Mokgopo’s footsteps, Lebo Pebane is also making a name for herself with recent attendance at the African Youth Games in Botswana together with Lawrence Mogano and Johannes Masetla; and she is currently competing in the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China.
Besides the cycling activities, the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy also focuses on education, and individual athletes are encouraged to attend Mathematics and English tutorials at the club after the weekend cycling sessions. To date, the DMA has either funded or facilitated a number of bursaries for high performing students.
The long-term vision of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy is to develop each athlete into a well-rounded, skilled individual who is able to earn a sustainable income and provide for their family.
The Jack Cheetham Award is for sports development projects in the able-bodied category. The award recognises the character and ideals of Jack Cheetham, a former director of Murray & Roberts and captain of the South African cricket team in the 1950s.