Six novice cyclists will represent Volkswagen and be among the thousands participating in the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge on 19 November.
Siyaphambili Team (meaning moving forward) consisting of Thobani Mhlongo, Kwanele Shabala, Mashesha Miya, Nonkuthalo Mgomezulu, Thembeka Mdakane and Samkelo Makhaza will be the Volkswagen-sponsored team competing in the world’s second-largest timed cycle race.
The six school children started cycling after Volkswagen, in partnership with Qhubeka Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP), donated Blue Bikes to their school in Bergville in rural Kwa Zulu Natal last year.
After receiving their Blue Bikes, the six school children went on to compete in the Bergville Cycle race as well as the Ladysmith race.
As a reward for their achievement and a celebration of their talent, the children were treated to a two-day trip to Durban to be spectators at the Tour D’Urban cycle race and that is where the dream to participate in the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge was born.
In conjunction with Cycling South Africa, the Siyaphambili Team was selected and identified as the students with the most promise and talent. As a means of fostering the new-found love for cycling, the Siyaphambili Team started training on road bikes and a local coach was also appointed to nurture and assist them with training. In the past six months Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has ensured that the team receives proper training and nutrition. The team also attended specialist cycling camps and competed in races leading up to the Telkom 947 Cycle challenge.
The most recent race the team competed in was the Amashova Durban Classic, where they all finished the gruelling 106km, with team-mates Thobani Mhlongo and Kwanele Shabala finishing the race in just over three hours.
“At Volkswagen we put people at the heart of what we do and play a vital role in moving people forward. Through the simple gift of motion we were able to transform hope into reality for the Siyaphambili Team and give them the best possible chance of competing at the highest level in the Telkom 947 Cycle challenge,” commented Meredith Kelly, Volkswagen Marketing Communications Manager
“Over the past three years, Volkswagen in partnership with Qhubeka have empowered communities by donating almost 3 000 Blue Bikes to children across South Africa, this year alone we have committed to contributing 1 100 Blue Bikes,” said Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa Chairman and Managing Director.
“Volkswagen believes that education is the foundation of a child’s future and that a child’s learning should not be hindered by their lack of mobility, that is why we seek to provide sustainable mobility for Africa whilst also inspiring young people to work hard and also dream big,” concluded Schaefer.
Team Siyaphambili will be joined by over 20 VWSA employees who will also be participating in the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge. The VWSA employees have raised R10 000 amongst themselves, with the proceeds going to Qhubeka.
Follow the Siyaphambili Team’s journey on the Volkswagen South Africa YouTube channel.