Velokhaya uses a range of education-based cycling programmes to give children from disadvantaged communities the skills and opportunities they need to make a success of their lives.
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy – or Velokhaya for short - is a not-for-profit
organisation based in Khayelithsha which uses a range of holistic, educationbased
cycling programmes to give children from disadvantaged communities in
South Africa – such as Khayelitsha - the skills and opportunities they need to
make a success of their lives. In other words, we grow champions on and off the
The word Velokhaya is derived from the French word for cycling (velo) and the Xhosa word for home (khaya) – as such, we’re regarded as the ‘home of cycling’ in Khayelitsha.
We currently run two programmes – a road and a BMX cycling programme – and use these to involve township youth in a positive, after-school activity and to supplement their formal education by teaching them important life skills such as discipline, determination, dedication, teamwork and how to win and lose etc.
Currently, approximately one third of South Africa’s population is under the age
of 15 and a large percentage of these young people live in areas affected by high
levels of poverty and unemployment, which makes them particularly vulnerable
to social ills such as crime and substance abuse.
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy was founded in 2003 with the intention of using the sport of cycling to help children living in these under-resourced communities, deal with the challenges they face.
As a Khayelitsha-based organisation, we are only too aware of the extent of the challenges faced by our township youth and we know that the skills our children need to deal with these challenges won’t necessarily be those they learn at school.
This is why we decided to implement a range of cycling-based programmes aimed at giving these children access to a more holistic education. We chose sport because it teaches children about resilience in the face of adversity, while giving them the opportunity to become physically and emotionally stronger. Sport also teaches them to strive for excellence, to be gracious in victory and to persevere in defeat.
We chose cycling because it was a sport which township children wanted to participate in and one which, until the formation of the Academy, had excluded a large percentage of SA’s population. We also chose cycling because we wanted to expose township children to a sport that was aspirational, one that would take them out of their immediate environment and bring them into contact with the broader South African community, thereby encouraging social inclusion and allowing them to participate as equal members of society.
While we believe that sport should be an integral part of every child’s education, the reality is that many, if not most, township children do not have access to sporting facilities because their schools have limited or no sporting facilities.
This is why we, as Velokhaya, are most grateful to the far-sighted corporate sponsors and individuals who’ve not only made it possible for township children to participate in cycling, but in doing so, have invested in the future development and growth of South Africa through the empowerment of its youth.
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy was originally founded in 2003 as the LDCA (Life Development Cycling Academy). Later, the activities of both the Life Cycling Academy and Velokhaya were merged into what is today known as the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy - or Velokhaya.
Velokhaya's cycling-based programmes target children from school-going age to those in their early 20s (predominantly children between the ages of 9-18).
Our programmes range from BMX cycling (to encourage mass participation in the sport), to school-based cycle/road safety programmes (the Engen Safe Cycling programme) and a range of competitive programmes (currently sponsored by Pick n Pay) that allow for participation in the sport at national and international level.
For almost a decade, our programmes have successfully shown how increased self-esteem and confidence on the bike helps to inspire and equip young people to deal with the difficulties they face in life and help them achieve their goals, both on and off the bike.
In 2003 two ordinary South Africans saw the potential of using cycling - an environmentally-friendly and healthy activity - to uplift children living in disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
The shared passion of Glyn Broomberg, a former teacher and gym owner, and Amos Ziqubu, a former postman, led to the formation of the LCA as a not-for profit organisation. Today, Velokhaya is the 'home for cycling' in the heart of the Khayelitsha community.
• The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy is based in Khayelitsha, at the Velokhaya BMX Oval. We currently have a total membership of around 400, of which 100 are active members. (The number of active members is
largely determined by the number of bicycles available).
• Phil Liggett, the international voice of cycling and Tour de France commentator, has been Velokhaya's chief patron since 2006.
• The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy is the first and only organisation in South Africa to successfully develop cycling in disadvantaged communities to the level where its members are able to compete both nationally and internationally. Not only have our cyclists delivered top results, but their successes have inspired other youngsters (who are able to identify with them and their circumstances) to achieve success.
Velokhaya members make the organisation proud simply by being positive role models in a community desperately in need of those. They have also used their many achievements on the bike to bring great pride to the organisation, their families and their community. For example, Luthando Kaka was the first black SA cyclist to compete internationally as a permanent member of a European pro-team. Today he and Songezo Jim ride for pro teams in Johannesburg. (Luthando Kaka is currently riding for Team Bonitas and Songezo Jim rides for MTN Quebeka. Both are competing internationally and are financially independent).
Every year Velokhaya riders participate in the prestigious Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, the world’s largest individually-timed cycling event, an important platform for promoting the work of Velokhaya and the support of our founding sponsor, Pick n Pay. In 2012, 111 Velokhaya riders participated in the Cycle and Junior Tours. As a result of our participation, Velokhaya received 34 new bicycles. They were donated by the PicknPay-sponsored LikeBike social media campaign and by South Africa’s Minister of Sport/the Department of Sport and Recreation.
• In 2011 Velokhaya cyclists won various road and time trial events - we also produced two Velokhaya Western Province Time-trial Champions and one Western Province Road Cycling Champion.
• In December 2011, Velokhaya was honoured to be one of three organisations in the finals for the prestigious Beyond Sport /globalbike Cape Town Award.
• In July 2011, the successful revamp of the Velokhaya BMX Oval was presented to the judges of the World Design Capital 2014 as a concrete example of how design can benefit those living in township communities. The WDC bid was successfully won by the City of Cape Town.
• In July 2011, Velokhaya BMX rider, Anita Zenani was selected to compete in the 2011 UCI World BMX Champs in Copenhagen, Denmark.
• In December 2009 two young Velokhaya BMX cyclists were selected to join one of South African's top BMX teams, Team Jeep, in competing in the SA BMX Championships in April 2010. Their selection was an incredible achievement considering the two riders had only been BMXing for less than a year. Even more incredible is the fact that both riders won three gold medals at the SA BMX Champs.
• Velokhaya BMX rider, Anita Zenani (12) was placed sixth in the World in her age category at the 2010 UCI BMX World Championships held in South Africa.
• By the end of 2010, our road cycling programmes had produced six elite cyclists who were competing at the highest level of road cycling in South Africa.
• Team CSC, which at the time was rated the world's number one pro-cycling team (and 2006's Tour de France team winners), visited the LCA in Khayelitsha in December 2006. Some of the world's top cyclists - including Carlos Sastre, brothers Andy and Franck Schleck and Fabian Cancellara - joined the LCA cyclists in riding through the streets of Khayelitsha. Following this visit, Team CSC decided to use its 2007 and 2008 Tour de France campaigns to raise money for the Academy - the money raised was used to build the Velokhaya BMX Oval.
• In 2007 and 2008, Velokhaya cyclists from were given the opportunity to visit the Tour de France when Team CSC used its two Tour de France campaigns as an opportunity to raise money to build the cycling facilities at Velokhaya. Money was raised through stage wins and auctions and the Velokhaya children were VIP guests at the event. The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) - owners of the Tour de France - also announced its support for Velokhaya on July 21, 2008.
• In November 2008 the Life Cycling Academy celebrated the opening of the Velokhaya BMX Oval in Khayelitsha, the first facility of its kind in South Africa. In keeping with the eco-friendly nature of cycling, recycled shipping containers - donated by shipping line Safmarine and converted with funds provided by Mars Africa and the Pedal Power Association - were used to construct the new BMX Oval buildings and BMX track which has been built to national competition standards. The Oval facilities include a viewing platform, a club house, toilets and showers, a race office and commentary box.
Click here to see our full list of HIGHLIGHTS.
Khayelitsha was founded in the early 1980s when about 1000 families were
settled in the area, which is about 35-40kms from Cape Town.
Meaning ‘New Home’, Khayelitsha was intended by the South African government at the time to provide housing to all 'legal' residents of the Cape Peninsula. The main criticisms of the Khayelitsha plan related to the forced removal of all Cape Town’s African residents and their re-settlement so far from the city with nothing but the most rudimentary services and in extremely high density accommodation.
The initial plan was to create four towns, each with 30000 residents in brick houses, but by 1990 the population of Khayelitsha was conservatively estimated at 450 000 and unemployment stood at 80%. At the time, only 14% lived in core housing, with 54% in serviced ‘shacks’ and 32% in un-serviced areas. A handful of residents had electricity and most families had to fetch water from public taps.
Khayelitsha grew rapidly during the 1990s as migrants from the Eastern Cape moved into the area. Some brought their cattle and were able to earn an income by selling milk to township residents. The sight of cows crossing bridges over the N2 freeway underlines the strong rural connection of many of the city's residents.
In 1994 the population of the greater Khayelitsha area was estimated at over 1 million. There was still no hospital in the entire area and other services, including policing, were hopelessly inadequate.
Apartheid may be over in the statutory sense, but its stark legacy – among them,
a severe housing shortage – remains in Khayelitsha. An average of 52% of
dwellings constitute informal housing and 38% formal structures in Khayelitsha.
Accurate, updated statistics regarding the size of Khayelitsha and the size of its population, in particular, are difficult to come by.
However, it is estimated that the greater Khayelitsha area is home to around 1.2 million people. Fewer than 7% of its residents are said to be over 50 years of age, and over 40% of its residents are under 19 years of age. (Approximately 75% of the population is under the age of 34).
An estimated 25% of the population is employed. A large percentage of its populace receive social welfare grants with the largest portion being used for child support.
In terms of gender, there are more females than males (56% vs 44%) in Khayelitsha.
The average household size in Khayelitsha is four persons per household with an average monthly income of R1 606 (around 192 USD or 123 GBP or 153 Euro).
Khayelitsha is also the second largest township in South Africa after Soweto, but as one of the fastest growing townships, is likely to soon become the country’s largest.
While it now boasts a new hospital and other infrastructure, many of its social challenges - including high crime rates, poverty and unemployment - prevail. A large percentage of its populace receive social welfare grants with the largest portion being used for child support.