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Mountain biking league takes school sport to new level

It is time to get ready for the to saddle-up the mountain bikes for entries to the 2018 season of the Spur Schools MTB League.

This year marks ten years since the league’s inception, and organisers say the tournament has grown in leaps and bounds.

It developed from just 1 590 entries and 115 participating schools in 2009, to 12 722 entries and 496 schools in 2017.

According to Meurant Botha, director of Amarider and the league’s principal organiser, the sporting initiative seeks to intro­duce more school-going children to mountain ­biking and to encourage South African schools to adopt it as an official in-school sport.

He says the initiative also aims to provide regional and national structure in MTB at school level.

“Offering mountain biking as a school sport is the perfect opportunity for those children who lack the ball skills to play soccer, rugby and cricket to be active as well. They should have the chance to participate in a sport that is just as much fun,” Botha says.

He says schools throughout the country that are well-known for their excellence in traditional sport, have now also become top MTB schools. Specialised staff and coaches are employed to help build tracks on which to practice, and ensure that children maintain a rigorous training programme. To date, the league has also managed to establish a presence in all nine provinces, which Botha describes as an “outstanding achievement”.

“Every province has been running a full MTB calendar, which is great news. Parents and kids particularly enjoy this sport because everyone can participate and have fun, whether on a competitive or social level. It is also a good way of getting kids onto the saddle and away from a mobile device,” he says.

Meanwhile, avid rider Alan Hatherly has taken his love for MTB beyond the high school tournament. This year, Hatherly was part of the team who represented the country at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. He won a bronze medal in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race.

During his high school career, Hatherly participated in five league events and is part of Team Spur – a group of talented riders who serve as mentors and motivational speakers for the league’s riders.

“I am really happy with the result at the Games. It went smoothly and I was happy to be on the podium,” Hatherly says.

To enter the Spur Schools MTB League, visit www.spurmtbleague.co.za.

Parents are required to complete the online registration process before entering any riders into the regional events.

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