The Spur Schools Mountain Bike League is a schools-based League aimed at qualifying High Schools for an annual inter-schools final, held in October.
Each region hosts events to determine which schools qualify to attend the final. The League was never intended to be a platform for individual cyclists as there are ample official opportunities for young riders to do so provincially and nationally via the Cycling South Africa program, which is, of course, the only path to World Championship and further on to the Olympic Games etc.
The League has no ambition to replace the Cycling South Africa structure and is in fact affiliated to Cycling South Africa via South African Schools Cycling (SASC)
The eventual League winners are schools and in terms of overall results, the League is focused on High Schools. Riders cannot enter this final event – their schools are invited after successful qualification.
The reason for our High School focus is that the League supports a diverse early childhood development program that is not focused on single sports dominance. Kids must play and participate in multiple activities.
In regions where overall participation is lower, primary schools are invited to League events, but there is no annual outcome or result. Courses are easy and races short.
The League’s success comes from the fact that we promoted the “team” concept in an otherwise individual sport. This has given the slower rider an opportunity to be just as important as the faster, as together they earn points towards eventual qualification.
Our vision is a sport that is no different from rugby, netball or cricket where teams are the contestants.
A big drive for the League is to obtain official school sports status from the Department of Education. In order to achieve this, we need participants in the League to be schools, not individuals.
To explain why certain regions accommodate limited homeschool participation one has to go back to see how the League developed. The League assimilated various series and events around the country over a 10-year period and each came with local attributes. Many of these events have fun (no outcome) events for primary school learners, and you find that these are generally open to all participants, as it does not affect the main League. In many regions there is a lack of participation opportunities in general, so a more open invitation to participate exists.
Where homeschoolers are accommodated in these regions, it is under the rule that they cannot earn points or qualify for the inter-schools final, as this obviously affects schools trying to qualify.
In Gauteng, the events were founded by schools in the early 2000’s and thus have always been school-focused, hence the fact that a no-homeschooling policy has always applied here.
Gauteng has a further challenge in that the events are oversubscribed and we are struggling to accommodate the current schools as it is.
The League is committed to a school-based focus, as we believe this holds the largest potential for growth and our diversity goals. This challenge can be made a lot easier if we can get governmental support, and we believe a school versus school approach is the best way to generate this support and manage the next growth phase for the League.
We all love cycling, so it is unfortunate that certain individuals do not qualify for our program, but we hope the above explanation of our structure and vision explains to a large extent why this is the path we have chosen.
We are committed to investigating how the other mainstream school sports manage the homeschool issue and will strive to align our program with these sports. Our constituents, the schools, will be instrumental in driving our policy in this regard.
Dirtopia Trail Centre