Cycling in South Africa has been identified as a sporting code that plays an important role in the drive to mobilise the nation. Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) created the Cycle for Life programme to resolve socio economic issues in South Africa. With the framework established, Cycling SA is working closely with SRSA and the provincial government departments to assist in driving the initiative. The inaugural Ride4Mandela event, which was hosted by Unite 2.0 Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day, was one of the first major programmes to be launched, incorporating running and cycling with the aim to mobilise the youth. The Unite 2.0 campaign promotes social cohesion, nation building, patriotism and world peace utilising the power of sport and arts as a tool for nation building and social mobilisation.
Cycling SA has a good, strong relationship with KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports and Recreation, and with their full support, the latest initiative from KZN Cycling is literally taking cycling to the schools in the province’s nine regions. The Development Race Day Series 2014 is expected to develop into a major project over the next four years. Already the success has been overwhelming with some of the rural schools welcoming over 145 learners to cycle on a flat track marked out with cones on a field. Some of these learners had never ridden a bicycle before, and had learnt the basics during the course of the morning.
The Uthukela District, hosted by the Ladysmith Development Cycling Club in Ladysmith, saw 145 enthusiastic pupils from 10 different schools in the district take part. The cycle “race” is intended to encourage mass participation by introducing cycling to as many youth as possible in the province, which will in turn provide KZN Cycling and Cycling SA the opportunity to source talented youngsters through the Talent Identification process. The initiative is also teaching the schools and clubs how to host a cycling event.
The long-term aim is to bring these events together to create a provincial series, where the top riders from each leg will compete in a finale event to crown a series winner. With the project seeing great success in KZN, Cycling South Africa aims to take the Development Race Day Series and expand it on a national level, using the model as a blueprint for the rest of the provincial government departments.