Developing underprivileged mountain biking (MTB) riders at Lydenburg High School in Mpumalanga is at the top of the school’s priority list, and a key ingredient to growing the sport in the country. No surprise that the school’s been named best developmental school in the Spur Schools MTB League.
But this accolade hasn’t just dropped in the school’s sporting lap. Instead, the team’s journey to success has been hard, with a rigorous training programme that requires an ongoing, unified effort to keep riders on their bikes and the coaching team on top of their game. Riders train at least three days a week in-school and on the weekend, kids take to the saddle to get-in a few extra hours of practice.
“Lydenburg High School’s MTB team is testimony that commitment and hard work pays off. We are results-driven and give the sport our all,” says Gerrit-Jan Dorfling, the school’s MTB manager and coach.
The school joined the Spur Schools MTB League in 2010 soon after deciding that it was time to promote MTB as one of its official in-school sports, right alongside the likes of rugby, hockey, netball and cricket. After all, MTB was a growing phenomenon in the country and Lydenburg wanted to be a part of it. Since then, the school has not looked back, winning each of its competing years for the exception of 2013.
Presently, 493 schools are participating in the League, and with 10 500 entries and 46 regional events across nine provinces, the best developmental school in the League award is a feather in the school’s cap. The League is said to be the biggest high school cycling programme in South Africa and the largest feeder system for mountain biking in the country.
And living up to this accolade is important to the school. Dorfling says in order to succeed, the coaching staff pours much of its attention into developing their riders, especially the previously disadvantaged. To-date, fundraising efforts have assisted the school to buy bicycles, helmets and the cycling kit, as well as the necessary supplies toolbox. The school also supports the team to attend events in concertina busses, with “kids in front and bicycles packed between the seats at the back”.
“Our biggest desire is to get give every child who wishes to participate in the sport an opportunity to do so and we are committed to supporting them where possible,” Dorfling says.
He says kids have “developed well” over the years and makes special mention of Neo Sibiya and Donald Hlase who have both performed “exceptionally” during the 2017 season.
“We are incredibly proud of our up and coming riders, they work diligently and pump in long hours to enjoy this level of success, they’re part of the reason our school has received this accolade from the League,” he says.