Putting Piketberg On The Map
Up to 800 cyclists are expected to participate in the 2017 Community Cycle Race in Piketberg on 8 October, hosted by Steynville Senior Secondary School, which has 1240 learners. This is the second year the race has taken place here, and, in the words of Herman Kordom, the Head of Sport Development, Bergrivier Municipality, which includes Piketberg, Velddrif and Porterville: ‘This is really something “wow” that attracts people from all over the Western Cape. It has the municipality’s full support and it is getting bigger and better every year.’
The Principal of Steynville Secondary, Ferdinand Saal, adds: ‘We are really proud of our school’s cyclists and of the whole event, which has put Steynville Senior Secondary and Piketberg on the map.’
The Steynville Senior Secondary Community Cycle Race is part of The Sports Trust Community Cycle Race Programme in partnership with Nedbank and the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and endorsed by Cycling South Africa. The Bergrivier Municipality has committed to support this race for the next three years.
The main event this year is a 98km and 46km race and cyclists from clubs throughout the Western Cape and surrounding regions will show what they are made of as they tackle this race, including the magnificent but daunting 8km mountain climb up the Versveld Pass in the final stretch of the 98km ride. The younger age groups will participate in shorter races.
‘You have to attend one of these races to appreciate the camaraderie, fun, competitive racing and incredible community support. Everyone is welcome, people come out in full force and the cyclists are cheered and encouraged all the way; it’s community- and sporting spirit at its best,’ says Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.
Amongst the cyclists participating in this year’s event, 150 are from the Schools Development Cycling Programme, which The Sports Trust has managed for the past 12 years together with its funders: Nedbank and the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport. The programme has taken the sport of cycling into 12 high schools and their communities in the Western Cape, notably the Cape Flats, Kraaifontein, the West Coast and Boland.
Mike Tippett, the Cycling Development Manager for The Sports Trust, says the Community Cycle Race in Piketberg will feature ‘some awesome competitor riding on the day, ahead of two major events in the Western Cape: the One Tonner and the Double Century. All of these races offer a good indication as to which of the development cyclists will qualify to compete in the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT). This year 90 development cyclists competed in the CTCT.’(The race was cancelled).
‘Our cyclists have performed well ever since we joined the Schools Development Cycling at the end of 2013 and received bicycles and equipment in 2014,’ says Steynville Senior Secondary educator and head of cycling, Cyril Keyster. ‘We strongly promote cycling in our region, and it has really taken off as an alternative to athletics, rugby, soccer, cricket and netball.
Several of the Steynville Senior Secondary learners who are in the Schools Development Cycling Programme qualify to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour each year. Two of the cyclists, Joshua Toontjies (17) and Eduardo Engelbrecht (17) were both selected for the Western Cape Cycling team in 2016 that competed in the SA Cycling Youth Championship Finals in Oudtshoorn.
Another learner, Gurswin Daniëls (19) was recently selected for the West Coast MTB team and he will compete at the end of September in the Western Cape MTB Championships in Hermanus. He will receive his West Coast colours and if he does well he will get his Western Cape colours. The beauty of this programme is that if they do well at school and cycling, when they matriculate they can get scholarships for higher education and they join cycling clubs wherever the find themselves.
Joshua Toontjies who is thinking of becoming a professional cyclist says: ‘Cycling gives me the belief that I can do better in anything I attempt. To be a good cyclist I must be disciplined and because of that I am more disciplined in my schoolwork,’ he says.
Gurswin Daniëls says: ‘I enjoy cycling. It is challenging., and now that I am selected for the West Coast MTB team I realise that hard work has its benefits. It makes me as well as my family proud.’
Denzel Rooi says: ‘I am the youngest member of the team. Because of the achievements of Jos and Gurs I put more effort into at least achieving what the achieved.’
‘To be good at any sport you have to learn to be disciplined; this also has a positive effect on the learners’ schoolwork,’ says Keyster. ‘They focus better and it keeps our young people away from the negative influences of alcohol, drug abuse and dropping out of school, which are challenges in our community. Our cyclists, for example, train after school every day, 15kms during the week and 30 to 40kms on the weekends,’ adds Kyster who has always dreamed of having a major cycle race in this region.
‘The Chairperson of the West Coast Sport Forum knew about my dream and he got in touch with The Sports Trust who called me in September 2013 and it took off from there,’ he explains. ‘It is the biggest event on the sports calendar for the schools in our area and it gives our school and community the confidence that we can host an event of such magnitude. So much so that it motivates the community to become more involved in the activities of the school and there is discussion about forming a cycling club in the community.’
Tippett says all the participating communities are highly supportive of the Schools Development Cycling Programme and eagerly await the community cycling races, which make for a thoroughly entertaining and exciting day that also includes other sports and wellbeing and informational events.
‘The Steynville Senior Secondary Community Cycling Race is the fifth and final community race this year. The other four were hosted by high schools in De Doorns, Saldanha, Kraaifontein and Mitchells Plain. They have grown beyond all expectation and this race in Piketberg promises to be our biggest yet.’
While the main event is on Sunday 8th October, the development cyclists will arrive on the morning of Friday 6 October and stay in the hostels at Steynville Senior and at Piketberg High. On the Friday they will learn different aspects of skills training, road etiquette and bike maintenance. On the Saturday, several age groups will participate in a development cycling timed race on a 1.8km route and a team powerthon over 35 kms. Each of the schools in the schools development programme will submit a team of five riders, of which one rider has to be a girl.
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais said, “Government depends on partners such as The Sports Trust, Nedbank and Cycling South Africa to facilitate opportunities for new cyclists to level the playing field. My department is committed to developing young athletes and providing them with opportunities to reach their full potential. My hope is that by offering youth alternative activities to take part in, we can reduce the numbers of youth who fall prey to social ills.”
‘The weekend will be the culmination of our development cycling programme in what has been a highly successful year,’ says Tippett. The extra training the cyclists have put in and the commitment they have shown will be evident on the day.’
‘Our heartfelt thanks go to all those who made the Schools Development Cycling Programme and The Sports Trust Community Cycling Programme the successes they are today,’ adds Badenhorst. ‘They are a tribute to Madiba and to all the values he attributed to sport in his legendary quote:
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
Development Schools in the 2017 programme
- Mitchells Plain: Beacon Hill Secondary, Oval North Secondary and Tafelsig Secondary
- Manenberg: Phoenix Secondary
- Hanover Park: Crystal High
- Khayelitsha: Matthew Goniwe Memorial High
- Kraaifontein: Scottsville Secondary
- West Coast: Diazville Secondary (Saldanha) and Steynville Secondary (Piketberg)
- Boland: Orchard Primary (De Doorns) and De Doorns Development Club