The Power of Sport: Cycling for continual changeSubscribe
UK Sport International 01 August 2012
It began as a donation of 100 bikes and is now a sports programme to develop young cyclists in Namibia - which has subsequently produced international athletes!
The programme is run by sport for development organisation, Physical Active Youth (PAY), in Katutura, a township outside of Windhoek, in Namibia. This year, the number of beginners joining the club has risen from 10 to 40 so in partnership with UK Sport, a cycling coach was sent out as part of the IDEALS programme to support the development of youth, including girls to take up the sport in both recreational and competitive environments.
Through competitive cycling, young riders are introduced to new communication skills and quickly learn how to become independent. As cycling is a middle-income sport in Namibia, cyclists are also introduced to social groups in society they would not ordinarily meet, predominately middle-class white men. But despite these differences, the young cyclists find strength in being a successful group of young, black sportspeople, who are also national record holders.
These young riders are motivated by the success of Costa Seibeb, 20, who has been cycling since he was a teenager and has competed in cycling tours across the continent.
“The first two races I found very difficult because I was much weaker, but the third time, I came in the Top 10!” says Costa, reflecting on his finishing position at the TRAC Cycle Tour in Nelspruit, South Africa.
His achievement is inspiring, considering he competes against professional cyclists, who have access to professional coaching and modern equipment.
“They [other cyclists] are amazed when I win because my bike is heavy and old school, whereas other bikes are light, I don’t use the same things and I do not have a professional coach,” he says proudly.
However, through PAY networks Costa is supported remotely by a cycling coach who sends him training routines via sms and provides nutritional advice and expertise to help him realise his huge potential.
He admits: “It is very hard. When you are in Namibia, there are not many professional coaches.” So in partnership with UK Sport, IDEALS Students share knowledge and expertise during their placements by developing fitness and training regimes with the new tranche of young cyclists.
Cycling in Namibia is slowly expanding and later this year, communications company, MTN, will launch their first permanent cycling team, which will add to the African teams, such as Garmin South Africa, to strengthen the profile of the sport.
Marie Jeanne, a consultant for PAY, believes that: “It is important for these youth to build up their resistance to fight and perform well, which they do when they are around people they are not used to.”
She also knows this will help the Katutura community. “As a community, they have had to speak to each other and set an agenda of how they want to contribute to the community. They need to research ‘Who do we speak to?’ if a community activity is not arranged. We have found a talent within this community and this programme is bringing it together and moving forward and giving them the power.”
Visit the PAY website to find out more at http://www.paynamibia.com/Home/index.aspx