The Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy #ConquerAsOne
03 November 2017
One of the toughest mountain biking events in the world is less than a month away, and once again, for the 2017 edition of the race the “Conquer as One” theme continues to play a major part of the Absa Cape Epic. But what does it mean to #ConquerAsOne, and how has it affected the learners of one of the main beneficiaries of the race, the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy?
We sat down with Benni, Pule and Melody – three riders from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy (DMA), to find out how the Absa Cape Epic and the theme of “Conquer As One”, has become a part of their journey.
What does “Conquer as One” mean to you?
Pule: If you’re working alone, it’s very difficult to achieve anything. I have met amazing people here and they have taught me so much. We have to work together to achieve great things, and reach new goals to have a better future.
How did you become involved in the DMA?
Pule: It was in early 2014, I was really busy with Matric which took up most of my time, but any extra time I had, I came here. My friends were involved in the DMA and that’s how I found out about it. This was my first sport. I never played soccer, and mountain biking was my first sport.
Melody: I’m actually just staying next door to Northern Farm and I was always at home with nothing to do. One day a guy named Tebogo called me to come and join the DMA. After I joined, I realised how much fun it was – we have classes and lunch. Sometimes we don’t have food at home to eat, but the DMA gave us food and helped us with school.
Benni: A friend of mine whom I was in class with, was with the DMA. When it was time to go to Absa Cape Epic, they came to our school to do their presentation and spread the word.
How important has the DMA become to the children of Diepsloot?
Pule: Very important. It’s helped a lot of us to stay away from drugs. If it weren’t for the DMA, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go down to Cape Town to be a part of the Absa Cape Epic. Since I have been here I have learnt a lot, and I have met a lot of people.
William Mokgopo and Tshepo have both gone on to become huge success stories for the DMA. How does that make you feel?
Melody: I feel really inspired to know that they are from a township like Diepsloot. I want to push harder to be on the same track as them. William was riding for South Africa and I am training every day to get the opportunity that he got. Now I feel that I can dream bigger.
Cycling may be the vessel, but what other kind of upskilling and mentoring does the DMA offer?
Pule: When you come here to ride, you find that it’s not just about mountain biking, It’s about learning. It’s taught me how to strengthen myself and how to do something that I never thought I could ever do.
What do you want to do when you move on from the DMA?
Pule: My goal is to, one day, work for a big technology company, like Apple. I love IT and software development, I’ve been interested in this kind of stuff since grade 9. In five years or so, I would like to see myself helping others achieve the same goals that I have achieved.
Melody: This year I am planning to study. I have been accepted at UT Tshwane University of Technology and I’m planning to studying public relations. I would also like to own my own bike shop to help other kids in Diepsloot, just like the DMA has done for me.
Benni: I would like to be a businessman. Hopefully, through opportunities the DMA provides, I will meet someone who can help me and become the stepping stone to a very bright future.
What would it mean to you to one-day take part in the Absa Cape Epic as a team rider?
Benni: It will mean that I’m actually showing progress, because being pointed out amongst all these guys we have here is not easy.
Melody: I believe that I can do it. The Absa Cape Epic is not only about fitness; it’s also about being mentally strong if you want to finish a race like the Epic.
Pule: That would be a very big thing for me. It’s what I have always wanted. It would be a huge step in my life. We all want to go and race at the Absa Cape Epic.
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