Cycling SA boss launches academy to help transform sport, get girls involved
In an attempt to introduce more women to the sport, Cycling South Africa vice-president Zamuxolo “Yster” Xatasi has formed a group for girl riders in the Bay. After just a month in existence, the club has grown to attract 12 cyclists.
Xatasi, who is the former Eastern Cape Cycling president, said it was part of Cycling SA’s mandate to make sure the sport was accessible to women.
He said introducing women to cycling was also part of transformation.
“I noticed the number of women riders in the city was very low, especially when it came to black riders,” he said.
“The involvement of women cyclists is part of transformation. The mandate of Cycling SA is to widen up the opportunity for ladies to join cycling.
“It’s my duty also as the executive member of Cycling SA to see to it that ladies take part in cycling, hence the formation of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Ladies Cycling Academy.
“We have 12 ladies so far in the group and their ages range from 14 to 19 years.
“Some of them have been involved in the sport before, so they are familiar with riding.”
He said most of the girls in the academy came from the most disadvantaged areas of NMB, Kwazakhele and New Brighton.
Xatasi previously served as CSA transformation and development officer and said his aim was to get girls away from taverns as it was a popular trend in the townships.
“The aim is to see to it that ladies in Port Elizabeth are involved in sport. We see girls in taverns from as young as 12.
“My aim is to take them out of that environment. My wish is to see these ladies compete at the highest level of cycling and also to produce champions within the club.
“We have been preaching transformation and especially the involvement of ladies in the structure of Cycling SA.
“Now is the time to make things happen.”
First-year Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitain University BA student Anelisa Malangabi is one of the women, who are part of the cycling academy.
The 19-year-old is no stranger to the sport, having been part of the Siyanqoba Cycling Club, which is based in New Brighton, for four years.
In 2015 she took a break from cycling to focus on her studies.
Upon her return, Malangabi is already eyeing being part of the prestigious Tour de France race in five years’ time.
“I love sport and I have always ridden bikes but I had never actually thought of taking cycling seriously,” she said.
“This year I want to take the sport seriously. That’s why I decided to join the group of ladies. It’s great to be back cycling again.
“In the next five years I would like to see myself riding in one of the big races like Tour de France and competing among the best riders.”
Another cycling enthusiast, Sibongile Cosa, 18, has also given the sport a second go.
“I started cycling in 2011 when I was 12 years old,” she said. “I left the sport because my parents wanted me to focus on the studies. “I was doing Grade 11. “Now that I have passed my matric I think this is the perfect opportunity to get back to the sport I love.
“This year I am improving my results and most of the time I am at home doing nothing. So I decided to get back to cycling.
“I am very passionate about cycling. It’s one of my favourite sports besides soccer and judo.”
First-timer Phawoluhle Funde, 16, is very excited about being part of the academy. She is in Grade 9.
“It’s the first time that I have done cycling, but from an early age I liked riding my bike and I developed an interest in the sport,” she said.
“When I heard about the group I decided to join. This is a great initiative to empower and also introduce women to the sport.
“The academy will also help to show that as girls we can do anything we put our minds to.”
Xatasi said women who were interested were welcome to join, at no cost.