Bonga Ngqobane

Founder, Bonga.org Cycling Academy

Bonga Ngqobane (26) started cycling when he was still at primary school. “I became attached to cycling, because it was a new venture and not known in the black communities where most people love soccer, rugby and other sports.” Ngqobane has raced competitively in events like the Absa Cape Epic (2015), and the Buffet Olives MTB Classic, in which he finished first in his category (under 23) in 2015.

However, his passion is to use cycling to benefit children in historically disadvantaged communities. In 2014 he founded Bonga.org Cycling Academy, which introduces school-going children in Makhaza, Khayelitsha to cycling and mountain biking, as well as assisting them with tutoring and encouraging them to consider a future in entrepreneurship. Through its Inter-Schools Cycling League, the organisation brings cycling to the doorsteps of township schools. Six such schools are brought together to cycle and compete against one another, as part of Bonga.org’s talent identification programme. Learners who show potential are then mentored and coached, both in cycling, as well as in academics. Bonga.org is supported by various organisations including The Answer Series, Pedal Power Association and Cycling South Africa.

In fact, Ngqobane’s work impressed Cycling SA so much they appointed him as a transformation specialist. Shortly thereafter, the body’s executive committee nominated him to be the chairperson of the Transformation and Development Commission. This role sees him dealing with cycling development and transformation, speaking on behalf of academies and addressing the needs and problems they are facing as well as representing previously disadvantaged riders.

With Ngqobane rooting for them, the future of many children in Makhaza looks somewhat brighter. He has recently erected a container and fenced it, with the intention of setting up a cycling and community youth centre. “I have a bigger vision for Bonga.org to become a well-established organisation which offers the youth an alternative way to engage and grow within historically disadvantaged communities where they are influenced by social ills,” he says. “My dream is to bring about positive influence and impact historically disadvantaged youth at large.”

His long-term goal is to become the president of Cycling SA. In this role he hopes to encourage corporates and government to get involved in transforming the sport further.

— Fatima Asmal

Twitter: @bongacycling