Cycling South Africa through KZN Cycling demonstrated its commitment to transforming the sport during a historic act of handing over 50 bicycles to young people from the local community along the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. This will not only assist in the development programme of the sport but also help in getting children from the rural areas onto bicycles for public transport purposes.
KZN Cycling Development Officer, Tyrone Johns, who has driven this initiative said that the donation of 50 bicycles was the start of their plan to get more and more youngsters onto bicycles in order to develop the athletes from the south coast region. Of the 50 bicycles donated, 25 were going to the Burry Stander Foundation for use at the bicycle park, and the other 25 were going directly into the local community so that learners could use them for commuting to schools as well as to the bike park to ride.
In addition to the bicycles, 50 helmets were kindly donated by the Margate Business Association represented by Mr Hartley Bidla, a Committee Member of the non-profit organisation that looks after local business in Margate.
The donation ceremony was officially opened by Cycling SA President, Mr William Newman, who took the opportunity to address all present on the sadness of the spate of xenophobic attacks that have been taking place in the province and country, and emphasised that “Cycling South Africa condemns the xenophobic attacks in the strongest way possible. South Africa is a country for all and cycling is a sport for everyone and all nations are welcome here in our country,” he said.
“As a Federation, we want to ensure that we can develop the riders to be the champions like the MTN-Qhubeka Feeder team who are role models for these young people. As we all know, Durban is virtually assured of being granted the hosting status for the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG). We would like to put the dream out there to all the youth, the 15-17 year old boys and girls, to make it your dream to be part of the CWG in 2022. In order for them to achieve this, the provinces, like KZN Cycling, and we, as Cycling SA has to ensure that there are programmes in place to develop the youth.”
Mr. Newman extended thanks to the Hibiscus Coast Municipality for their support in creating the environment and infrastructure to host the festival of cycling. He also thanked KZN Sport and Recreation for the established partnership that had been built.
“Together with them we have been able to host numerous international events and again the UCI (International Cycling Union) events we are hosting this week is testimony to their support and we would like to see this partnership flourish.”
In her address, Mayor Councilor N.C.P. Mqwebu said: “This is the first time that we are hosting a cycling activity in our municipality and it is with great pleasure that this cycling festival is coupled with a development programme targeting our young people who will be the beneficiaries of the bicycles today. They will be receiving their tools of the trade today in order to participate fully in this cycling event and display their talents.”
She also mentioned that sporting events have become big business and cities were competing to host better events with the objective of boosting local economy. “The sporting event will position our municipality as a sports tourism destination in the future. We have learned that this cycling festival seeks to promote awareness and participation of previously disadvantaged individuals.”
Director of the World Cycling Centre Africa, JP van Zyl, said: “It all starts here. If you look at Nic Dlamini, he came from something similar to this and yesterday he was fighting for the victory in an international race. It’s good to see that Cycling SA is investing in the youth. I am sure we will see one of these kids on the podium one day and they’ll be telling their story. We are happy to be part of this, we believe in this.”
The Burry Stander Foundation’s Mandie Stander said: “The development started slowly. After Burry’s passing I needed to put my energy into something. Well, with these kids, one heard about the bike park and the next minute I had about 30 kids every Saturday coming to ride and we feed them and they play around a little bit. A lot of them I had to pay taxi money for to get them to the bike park on a regular basis because they live far away. These bikes are going to help them get to the bike park and enjoy what we are offering there.”