2018 marks the second year that the GO!Durban Cycle Academy is competing in the KZN Spur Schools MTB League and it has proven to be a season beyond expectations!
The racing team has performed consistently over the last three events (29 July, 19 August, 26 August), with their results improving each time and achieving a number of top 10 finishes.
The flashes of bright green GO!Durban kit have become instantly recognisable on the course with our riders competing in almost all of the age categories, from Primary School through to High School, and 40% of these being girls.
“The Spur MTB Schools League is an annual highlight on our racing calendar as it really puts our training during the year to the test,” says Shaun Peschl, Programme Director of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy and Director of PeschlSports. “We have seen significant improvement in our team from last year and being able to consistently put up to 22 riders on the start line is a proud achievement for us.”
“We are particularly impressed with our ladies’ results and we are hoping to send some of our female athletes to represent the province at the National finals.”
As the first development programme in KZN to train female cyclists, Head Coach Siyabonga Njiva is also very pleased with the ladies’ performance to date:
“The girls are improving with each race. It’s their first XCO series so it’s still new to them, but they are doing very well and we’re on the right track.”
For the academy as a whole, the Spur Schools MTB League is the foundation of competitive XCO racing and is a training ground for young riders to hone their skills, before moving up to compete in the more difficult National MTB XCO Cup Series.
“I’d like to say thanks to Spur and the organising team for allowing us the opportunity to participate in the league,” says Njiva.
“For us, it’s bikes and school; we work on the basis that you have to pass the term in order to race so the kids make sure that they pass at school so that they are able to race in the Spur series. Even if they come last, that medal means a lot to them!”
With just one more provincial race to go, the stakes will be high at Thomas Moore College in Kloof on the 9th of September 2018 with all riders hoping to collect as many points as possible to qualify for the National Spur Schools’ MTB League finals, taking place in Gauteng in October.
KZN Spur Schools MTB League #4: 9 September 2018
“The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.” – Michelle Obama.
Women play a pivotal role in our communities and the GO!Durban Cycle Academy places enormous focus on ensuring that the women in our organisation are acknowledged, valued and supported.
This August, we celebrate Women’s Month by taking a closer look at the phenomenal women who keep the wheels turning at the GO!Durban Cycle Academy!
1. Andiswa Susan Dlamini: KwaDabeka Bike Park Site Manager
Susan was born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal. After her father passed away when she was just 12 years old, she went to live with the family where her mother was employed as a domestic worker and she remained with them throughout her high school years at Durban Girls’ High.
“Even though I was wearing a second-hand uniform because we couldn’t afford a new one, my Mom was determined to take me to that school because she wanted me to have a better education and better opportunities than her.”
After high school, Susan received a scholarship to Rhodes University, but there was no way she could afford to pay for housing, transport and food expenses as the bursary only covered the cost of tuition. So, Susan opted to stay close to home and go to the Durban University of Technology. In her first year, she unexpectedly fell pregnant with her daughter, but she did not allow that to deter her vision for her future. Instead, motherhood fuelled her to achieve even higher.
“My mom and daughter are the best investments in my life. Everything I do, I do for them.”
Susan started working for Durban Green Corridors (DGC) as an intern in 2012.
“I needed practical experience to pass my Diploma,” she explains. “I was so inspired by the community involvement and the youth programme at Isithumba and I wanted to bring that same inspiration to KwaDabeka because my passion is to develop communities.”
After convincing her mentor Gary Cullen to open a site in her own community, Susan became the site manager in the same year. Later, in 2015, she had the opportunity to spend time with Weltwärts, a development volunteer service in Germany, through DGC’s environmental sustainability partnership with the City of Bremen. This experience really formed the foundation of her expertise in managing youth programmes and how to liaise with local schools and other community stakeholders.
She came back to South Africa in 2016 where she played a critical role in the launch of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy bike park in KwaDabeka.
When asking Susan what her favourite part of her job is, she answers without hesitation – “Making a difference; having an impact in someone else’s life. We could have no budget and I’d still do it.”
“Without this academy, our kids would be playing on the streets – we’d have teenage girls who are pregnant and teenage boys involved in drugs and gangs. It’s a place where kids come to feel safe, where they are never judged, but they are able to be themselves and they are always pushed to become better.”
“Children are a reflection of the community that they come from and one day when they are businessmen and women or entrepreneurs, I want them to say: ‘if it wasn’t for that academy, I wouldn’t be here. It embedded the morals that I have, it kept me away from bad things and because of the academy I’m able to be a proud ambassador of my community.'”
And lastly her closing thoughts on the power of women: “I think women are underestimated a lot. I would love to see more female coaches; I would love to see our young girls growing up to be coaches and giving back to their communities as well.”
2. Nonhlanzeko Purity Mpanza: KwaDabeka Bike Park Site Assistant
From Left to Right: Sthabile, Mbali, Nomfundo, Nomonde and Nonhlanzeko (KwaDabeka Site Administrator)
Nonhlanzeko was also born in KwaZulu Natal, but growing up in the Apartheid era forced her parents and 3 siblings (two brothers and a sister) to move around a lot. She still lives with her parents today and is a mother to an eight-year old daughter.
“Growing up I wanted to be a psychologist, but as I grew older and I became a Mom I was drawn to kids so I decided to enrol for my BA degree in Education through UNISA, specialising in Senior Phase and FET.”
At the time when Durban Green Corridors was establishing their site in KwaDabeka, Nonhlanzeko was pursing her dream of becoming a teacher by gaining experience as a volunteer at the community nursery school on the site – Letukhanya.
Susan recruited her for the DGC job where she now fulfils multiple roles as the Site Assistant, Youth Programme Facilitator and Academic Coordinator.
Despite her quiet and calm demeanour, Nonhlanzeko’s enthusiasm for the youth in her community is unmistakable.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids faces when they come here blesses me every day. If children come here, they won’t be the same as the other kids in the community. We teach them respect, responsibility, to appreciate one another, and to love themselves.”
Her vision for the future of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy is to see at least one of the kids pursuing cycling professionally, but more importantly, for the youth to grow up to be successful and to come back and be an example to the others and show them that everything started here, at the academy, to motivate them.
Similarly to Susan, Nonhlanzeko goes above and beyond the description of her job title and is a trusted mentor to the kids, particularly the young girls.
“I want them to know that we are all human and we make mistakes, but the important thing is to rise above those mistakes and never think that some things are impossible – if you put your mind to it, you can achieve it.”
3. Nomonde Makwa: Inanda Bike & Tourism Park Administrator
Hailing from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Nomonde moved to KwaZulu-Natal with her family in 2007. She started working for Durban Green Corridors in 2011 where she was trained as an Environmental Educator by Debbie Bennett and they worked alongside each other, going to schools to encourage environmental awareness and conservation among learners and educators.
Nomonde is married to Lonwabo Makwa who is the Youth Sports Coordinator at Inanda and together they have three children – a daughter (17) and two sons (14 and 7).
Nomonde’s role includes overseeing site operations and accompanying the kids to sports events, particularly the trail running team which is coached by Lonwabo.
“I love working with the kids and seeing their smiling faces when they come to the site!”
Although her background is in environmentalism and tourism, a love for sports has also rubbed off on her.
“I did my first trail run in May . I also enjoy road running and I do events like the Spar Ladies Run and Total Sports Women’s Race.”
Her unique blend of skills for environmental education and youth sports development makes this formidable wife and mom-of-three an invaluable asset.
“What we are doing for the youth is so important for the community and I want to make sure that our programme can empower them for the future, so that they can be successful even after they have matriculated and left our programme.”
Two riders from the GO!Durban Cycle Academy have been awarded full scholarships to attend Northwood High School as part of the academy’s long term plan to invest more heavily in education, backed by GO!Durban and the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA).
Mcendisi Mkhize (Grade 8) and Lungani Mbambo (Grade 11) started participating in the cycling activities at the first GO!Durban Cycle Academy bike park in Inanda, managed by Mr. Nhlanhla Sibiya and Mrs. Nomonde Magwa, in 2016, and quickly became members of the racing team after showing much promise on the bike.
The young men have now taken a giant leap forward in their sporting and academic journeys, enrolling as learners and full time boarders at Northwood High School, in Broadway, Durban North.
They will be following in the footsteps of Northwood Alumni, Cayde Muldoon, who was instrumental in the success of the Northwood Cycling Team during his tenure at the school and continues to achieve top 10 race results in the province as an ambassador of the academy.
To assist in this journey, the two have started an elite athlete training and development programme with Peschl Sports.
“It is very important for the boys to be in close proximity to gym facilities and their coaches, and to have consistent nutrition in order to improve their natural talent. Thanks to our partnership with Northwood we are now able to offer them this,” says Shaun Peschl, Director of Peschl Sports and manager of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy sports programme.
“Education is also a critical component of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy and we apply a strict ‘no pass, no race’ rule. Therefore it was imperative for us to make sure that our top riders have access to the best available basic education so that they are well-rounded and well-educated athletes,” explains Peschl.
“Mcendisi and Lungani are the pioneers of this programme, and we believe that they will serve as beacons of hope to their peers as we strive to enhance the academic support offered to all members of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy.”
The boys are adjusting well to their new school and are eagerly preparing for the start of the national Spur MTB Schools Series this weekend (Sunday 29 July 2018), with the hopes of adding to Northwood’s already prestigious trophy cabinet.
“This is an opportunity for Mcendisi and Lungani to take their lives to another level,” says Mr. Paul Viljoen, headmaster of Northwood High School. “We are very excited about their talent and will do our best to develop this, as we do with every other boy in our school. We uphold very high academic and sporting standards at Northwood and we look forward to seeing these two young men thriving in our environment and achieving great results.”