Kwano Cycling Academy creates new worlds for Kwano kids
A blog by Wandisile Sebezo
Following our brief coverage of the Kwano Cycling Academy in our Plett Summer magazine, we include a thorough follow-up on the great work they do in the community of Kwanokuthula, writes Wandisile Sebezo.
An excerpt from the Plett Summer magazine: “It’s ground-breaking not only because it offers young pupils of Murray High something to do after school, in a community that is engulfed with a growing rate of petty crimes amongst its young, it’s changing the lens through which young black people see the world of sport – that it’s okay to be something else other than a soccer or a rugby player, sporting codes which are like religion in the black community.”
The programme, headed by Colin Shave, started in 2014, and has since gained support from the pupils there with the number of participants growing steady. Last year they had 37 students partaking, this year they’re sitting at 40. The number of female students participating decreased from 7 to 4 this year, a small setback but not all hope is lost, something can still be done to actively encourage female students to be part of this initiative.
Based at Murray High, with full time coach Sipho Mthembu who runs the daily operations from the base at the school, they are armed with a set of values that we all should strive for – integrity, accountability, respect and commitment.
The school boasts a full-on unit including a workshop and a storage facility. Although the Academy’s focus is strictly on high school pupils, they do not rule out possible inclusion of community members with an interest in cycling. Adventure may be what they’re after, but it’s not all fun and games for this crew. To maintain your place in the team, each learner must do well in the classroom as much as they do so in the field, riding.
Colin Shave told me that, “It’s a combination of getting them to do something after school so that they don’t get into trouble, but obviously we want to link it to academics, we want to see their marks improve.”
And as part of improving their marks, the Kwano Cycling Academy has managed to get 40 computers donated to them, specifically for this program, and I am told the kids will spend about an hour every day doing educational lessons on these computers before getting out to ride, as part of their training schedule. Had I been a religious fellow, I would scream ‘Hallelujah’ right now!
After a decade of being out of Murray High myself (and having perhaps nostalgic vibes of the high school years that were), I popped in there to chat to some of the students taking part in this programme. Before I could even start to converse with them, one could see the positive impact the programme has made in the lives of these young dudes. Their enthusiasm is telling for this initiative that breaks new grounds and creates new worlds for them.
The trio I spoke to, Siphe Ncaphayi (19), Masixole Zondani (18) and Zuxole Galeni (19), hope to one day make it to the professional cycling league. The three told me that the very fact that cycling is not dominant in the black communities is what partly attracted them to it, to break barriers, as it were. Using this adventurous sport to build bridges between our diverse communities is a goal worth striving for.
The Academy has surely made such dreams a reality. With enough support and cash injections to fund the Academy’s operations, including taking part in national competitions and the likes, the sky is the limit for these boys and girls.
While there, I witnessed a ‘bromance’ kinda relationship between Colin Shave and the principal of the school, when united behind a common vision, nothing beats good relations, I thought to myself. Certainly the good cooperation between the academy and the school is very much commendable.
It’s obvious these two understand that education is broad, and it’s not only a classroom approach. An adventurous sport such as cycling, can too be a catalyst in moulding our young in becoming healthy and active adults.
And ours is a winning team, having performed in various competitions across the country and they include amongst others:
- 280km over 3 days
- Team of 2 sponsored by Nedbank
- Placed 66 of 650, top 10%
Spur High School Series
- Placed 2nd out of 14 schools
- Knysna Oyster Festival
- 9 riders participated
- 50km race: Sipho finished in top 5 out of 1,077 riders
- 30km race: Maso finished 33rd out of 580 riders
- 9 riders
- Top rider 7th in GC
- 2nd and 3rd in Juniors
No doubt amazing results for novice riders and there is plenty of room for more.
And because of the efforts by the Kwano Cycling Academy, Murray High School has received 50 bikes from Qhubeka and Dimension Data, and 100 more will be distributed in April. The presence of the Kwano Cycling Academy in Kwano and in Murray High has indeed proven to be useful. When Nelson Mandela said “Sports can change the world”, those of us who grew up in the Townships would have never imagined an adventurous sport such as cycling could be one of those.