This week I am travelling around South Africa to get the country to rally around Team MTN Qhubeka p/b Samsung: Africa’s Team. This is the world’s first pro-continental cycling team representing an entire continent (namely The African Continent).
The team is heading to Spain to become the first African team to compete in La Vuelta a España, one of the three Grand Tours of cycling. And that’s only the start – with all of South Africa’s and Africa’s support, they could be heading to the Tour de France next year.
I was blown away by the fact that other teams race for victory, but the Qhubeka cyclists race to change lives by raising funds and generating exposure for the MTN Qhubeka programme, which empowers rural communities with bicycles that are earned and not as a result of a hand-out. Qhubeka is an Nguni word that means “to carry on”, “to progress”, “to move forward”.
The facts and figures speak for themselves:
• More than 46000 bikes have been distributed by Qhubeka since 2005
• A child’s commute time to school is reduced by up to 75% with a bicycle
• A bicycle increases a person’s carrying capacity by five times
• Healthcare workers can visit more than double the amount of patients per day with a bicycle
• Marks improve by an average of 25% for children who ride a bicycle to school
• Schools where children ride bicycles see attendance rates rise by 18% on average
The Qhubeka Team will join 21 other teams at the Vuelta, which will take place from Saturday, August 23 to Sunday, September 14, and will cover a total distance of 3181 kilometres over 21 stages. A mammoth race, for sure, and one which I hope the whole of Africa will be watching.
The Vuelta will be an opportunity for the Team to garner more fans and showcase their ability to compete with the world’s best, and hopefully fill the whole of Africa with pride when they touch the continent’s shores again.
I will be following the team with pride, and will be tweeting updates, so follow me @liezelv and #AfricasTea.