Focusing on the upliftment of children from disadvantaged communities, this non-profit organisation based in Khayelithsha, at the Velokhaya BMX Oval, uses a range of holistic, education based cycling programmes to give these children the skills and opportunities they need to make a success of their lives. Hence their saying; ‘we grow champions on and off the bike’. The word Velokhaya is derived from the French word for cycling, velo, and the Xhosa word for home, khaya – as such, regarding Velokhaya as the ‘home of cycling’ in Khayelithsha.
Image Source: Velokhaya.com
In 2003 two ordinary South Africans, Glyn Broomberg and Amos Ziqubu, saw the potential of using cycling – an environmentally-friendly and healthy activity – to uplift children living in disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Phil Liggett, the international voice of cycling and Tour de France commentator, has been Velokhaya’s chief patron since 2006.
The academy currently runs two programmes – a road and a BMX cycling programme – that are used to involve township youth in a positive, after-school activity and to supplement their formal education by teaching them important life skills such as discipline, determination, dedication, teamwork and how to win and lose.
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy is the first and only organisation in South Africa to successfully develop cycling in disadvantaged communities to the level where its members (currently 400 members, of which 100 are active) are able to compete both nationally and internationally. Not only have their cyclists delivered top results, but their successes have inspired other youngsters to achieve success.
Luthando Kaka was the first black SA cyclist to compete internationally as a permanent member of a European pro-team. Today he and Songezo Jim ride for pro teams in Johannesburg. Kaka is currently riding for Team Bonitas and Jim rides MTN Quebeka. Both are competing internationally and are financially independent.
It is these success stories that made the organisers of the Mzansi Tour decide to make the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy one of it’s official beneficiaries
Kaka is unashamedly pleased that Velokhaya will be one of the beneficiaries of the Mzansi Tour and hopes that this partnership will lead to children of the communities through which the tour will pass, to fall in love with the sport of cycling, increasing their chances to live their dreams.
Velokhaya intends to use the support of the CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority), an Mzansi Tour partner, to boost the development of skills among its members and contribute to the economic growth of the South African sports sector.
According to Monde Mpongoshe, Velokhaya CEO, the partnership with CATHSSETA will not only give Velokhaya's members access to skills that will allow them to make a meaningful contribution to this sector, but Velokhaya will also be responsible for helping to develop skills in communities located along the route of the Mzansi Tour as part of a legacy initiative." These skills will include, among others, event coordination, media liaison, cycle coaching, technical team support, bicycle mechanics and marshalling.
As Velokhaya is not just another cycling academy, the Mzansi Tour will not be just another cycle race, but one which strives to make a difference in the lives of people.
Stage one, April 17: 163km. Kruger Gate, Kruger Park to Nelspruit
Stage two, April 18. 184km. Lydenburg to Middelburg
Stage three, April 19: 144km. Witbank to Mamelodi
Stage four, April 20: 163km. Hartebeespoort to Pretoria Union Buildings, via Tom Jenkins Drive.
Stage five April 21: 117km. Monte Casino to Monte Casino
For more information on the Mzansi Tour, visit www.mzansitour.co.za
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