Developing the grassroots is the right way to go


LAST Saturday the Lesotho Cycling Association (LCA) held its Nedbank Mountain Bike National Championship in Roma with the usual suspect Phethetso Monese claiming the title.

Nedbank Lesotho bankrolls the event to the tune of M75 000.

The race saw cyclists competing in different categories from under-15 to the seniors for both females and males.

What caught my eye during the race was the participation of the young cyclists in development categories of juniors and under-15 where female and male riders were competing in the 10 and 15 kilometre races.

For a long time, we have said that one of the challenges that local athletes face is that they are introduced to their respective sports way too late. It shows when they participate in international competitions.

No matter how talented one may be, they still need certain skills and techniques that hand in glove with their talent. This is where most local athletes fall.

But I must applaud the LCA for this initiative of introducing these young athletes to the sport from an early age.

I must confess that at first, I didn’t think the young cyclists would manage to ride for 15 kilometres but I was stunned seeing some of them completing with ease.

I was also impressed by the high number of girls who participated in the event.

For a long time, local women haven’t shown much interest in cycling and for years, Likeleli Masitise has been the only top female cyclist in the country making waves locally and outside the country under the banner of the African Dream Team.

It was encouraging seeing young ladies taking part in the competition in high numbers.

Credit should also go to Lesotho Sky founder Christian Schmidt, who has worked hard with his team to ensure the growth of the sport and has also opened a bike shop in Roma.

He also introduced a new race, Sky League, last November.

I think it’s because of the Sky League and the bike shop in Roma that we have seen the sport growing.

What needs to happen now is for authorities to host as many competitions as possible to incubate the talent by keeping the riders busy. This will also ensure that the riders get proper training which can help them improve further.

Mark West has also done exceptionally well with the African Dream Team but we know his focus is on the older cyclists, so we need more focus to be on the developmental side.

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