This February, the GO!Durban Cycle Academy celebrates its fifth anniversary having significantly impacted on the lives of young people through its dynamic youth development programmes.
Launched in 2016, the Academy is a joint initiative between the eThekwini Transport Authority and Green Corridors NPC, and has fast made its way to being recognised as Durban’s leading youth development and active mobility programme. It provides free cycling training, academic support, and life skills opportunities to youth at four sites in the heart of communities in Inanda, Chesterville, KwaDabeka, and Kwamashu.
Now the largest cycling development programme in South Africa, the Academy has 400 beneficiaries between the ages of 6 and 18 years. It’s primary objective is to offer recreational cycling at a grassroots level, but talented riders are selected to participate in provincial and national events based on technical ability as well as academic results.
The Academy is home to three world-class Velosolutions pump tracks and has hosted two Red Bull Pump Track World Championships qualifier events (2018 and 2019) at the first track built in KZN in KwaDabeka.
“We believe we have set a precedent for similar programmes across the country,” says Shaun Peschl, Programme Director of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy. “We were delighted that the Academy won the Sports Development Programme of the Year Award at the 2019 Hollard Sport Industry Awards, as this recognised our holistic approach to youth development, sporting achievements, and positive community impact. In addition to improving the lives of direct beneficiaries, the programme also creates gainful employment for a number of bike park staff including coaches, bike mechanics, trail builders, tutors, cleaners and caterers.”
A key focus recently has been female development, and in 2019 it produced the first Black female riders to ever compete in the KZN Gravity series (Downhill and Enduro MTB), as well as represent KZN at the Spur High School MTB League national finals in October 2019.
In 2019, the programme expanded to include a musical theatre academy where youth are enrolled in singing, dancing and acting classes. Every year, this academy stages an original “edutainment” production in the local communities, creating an opportunity for the youth to showcase their talents while delivering an important message to the audience.
The Academy has continued to invest in the success of the youth during the Covid-19 pandemic. This included providing monthly food packs to all members, as well as adapted academic support where Mathematics and English tutors conducted Whatsapp sessions with Matric students to assist them in preparing for their final examinations.
“We began the GO!Durban Cycle Academy as a proactive way to start developing a culture of active mobility within communities who would not usually have had access to cycle training and equipment,” explains Head of the ETA, Thami Manyathi.
“We have seen how, through the care and efforts of the managers, coaches, and teachers, these youths’ lives have changed with improved academic results and cycling abilities, as well as greater involvement and commitment to the sport, and their communities. Thanks to all in the City and our private sector partners for believing in this worthwhile programme.”