From the 7 to 9 February, 111 learners (88 boys and 23 girls) from The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme, funded by Nedbank, will book into Soetwater Environmental Education Centre at Kommetjie for a three-day preparation session ahead of the Cape town Cycle Tour (CTCT) on the 8th March.
The learners are from 9 high schools and one primary school in the Western Cape, situated in Mitchells Plain, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Piketberg, Saldanha and De Doorns. The schools have all been part of The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme for the past 16 years.
‘This is the second year we are hosting the pre-CTCT skills training weekend at Soetwater with all expenses paid for all the learners, thanks to Nedbank,’ says Mike Tippett, Manager of The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme. ‘It is such an ideal venue; it’s close to Cape Town in a beautiful, safe, natural environment with good accommodation and food, and it is situated on the CTCT route. During the weekend the learners cycle 50kms of the 108km route so that they can experience part of it.’
It takes a lot of mental and physical preparation to get them ready for this iconic race; hence there is a strong focus on fitness, personal development and team building at Soetwater, facilitated in a fun, adventure-filled way.
‘This year we added a third day to the programme to dedicate more time to personal growth, as we recognise how critical this is for these young people, many of whom come from very difficult, financially stressed backgrounds,’ says Tippett. ‘We focus on developing a sense of self, goals, respect, responsibility, tolerance and acceptance (of other people’s beliefs, values, views, cultures, gender).
The development cycling programme targets 13 to 19 year olds, and for many of them the teenage years are a stressful, make or break time of life as they are so vulnerable to being lured down destructive paths.
‘Of great concern is that so many learners are dropping out of school at an early age and they are susceptible to gangs, drugs, violence and women abuse,’ says Bernice van der Walt, Group Marketing Manager of the Nedbank Sport Affinity. ‘Through the cycling programme we offer a healthy lifestyle which requires commitment and concentration, and this, in turn, enhances their performance in the classroom.’
‘At Soetwater we have a life skills training session and a problem solving session- which is part of an obstacle course,’ explains Tippett. ‘We have specialist educators talking about careers, gender issues, home life issues, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and gangs. We also just spend time getting to know each other, sitting around the bonfire at night and taking in the stars. There are counsellors present over the three days to discuss any issues with the learners one-on-one. We also want to emphasise that the whole programme at Soetwater is extremely well regulated, we have a medical team present at all times, and the learners’ safety and wellbeing is paramount.’
The cycling component at Soetwater includes learning how to approach the different stages of the CTCT, how to be comfortable on their bikes, cope with the wind and thousands of other cyclists, and learn about the rules and camaraderie of cycling.
For 20% of the learners it is their first time cycling. They have just started their first year of high school and they have just joined the cycling club. They’re all coming to Soetwater but not all of them will ride the tour as the programme will never allow youngsters who aren’t ready for it to participate. It might take a year or two for them to get there. Fortunately they have many role models in the programme.
A growing number of former development cycling programme participants who have since matriculated have gone on to study at university and college, others are doing extremely well at cycling and have their sights set on being in the first ten at the CTCT and pursuing professional cycling careers. All of them say the programme has been instrumental in changing their lives.
The participating schools are:
Phoenix High School, Orchard Primary School, Ocean View High School, Oval North High School, Matthew Goniwe High School, Diazville High School, Beacon Hill High School, Scottsville High School, Steynsville High School, Tafelsig High School.
For more information about:
Soetwater Environmental Education Centre
The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme:
Manager of The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme: 062 159 1011
Marketing & Communications Manager: 082 802 2899
The Sports Trust
The Sports Trust is a registered section 21 company and public benefit organisation that operates as a non-profit organization. It acts as an implementation partner for contributing corporates and donors, and provides sporting kit and equipment, manages sustainable sport programmes and develops sports facilities in under resourced communities in South Africa. The Sports Trust has been a catalyst for meaningful change in sport throughout South Africa working together with its Trustees and Corporate donors.
Nedbank is a founding trustee of The Sports Trust and provides support through its Nedbank Sport Affinity Programme. When you use any of the Sport Affinity accounts, Nedbank donates money to The Sports Trust for the funding of sport development, talent identification and transformation in under resourced communities, which assists with talent identification and the transformation of sport.