7 February 2013

Namibia: Pay Team Catches the Limelight

THE Physically Active Youth (PAY) cycling team has been catching the limelight with some great performances in the Windhoek Pedal Power (WPP) cycling series over the past month.

In the three races to date in the WPP series, cyclists of the Katutura-based team have consistently finished amongst the top five overall cyclists, while they have also been dominating the Under-23 category with three victories to date.

At the first race at the Döbra Loops on January 20, Fiffy Kashululu won the Men's U23 category, coming fifth overall, and a week later at the Dordabis Road Race, Kashululu once again won the U23 category, coming fourth overall.

At the third race of the series - last weekend's Matchless Road Race - the PAY team took the first three places in the Men's U23 category, with Lucky Mbako coming fifth overall, Kashululu sixth overall and Johannes Hamunyela eighth overall.

After last Sunday's race, Mbako was a bit surprised at winning the U23 category, but thanked his team mates for their support.

"I must say, it's a surprise that I won but I have to thank my team for their help, without them I couldn't have made it," he said.

Mbako, who started cycling in 2008, said it soon became a passion and now he was following his dream.

"I started cycling in 2008 and it soon became a passion and a dream, so now we are trying to make the dream come true and we are chasing that dream."

"We are all from Katutura, it's a young team and we are all working hard to make the dream come true. The spirit is high, it's a strong team and all the guys are committed and we are there for each other, we are like brothers, or like we say, 'kandenges'," he said.

Kashululu, who is leading the U23 category with two victories to date said he didn't mind coming second behind Mbako, as long as he could help his team do well.

"It was a hilly road and a tough race and overall I came sixth and second in my category. I feel good about coming second in my category, and with my team mate winning, that's very good and we are still on top in the U23 category," he said.

Kashululu also started cycling in 2008 and soon the cycling bug bit him.

"I started cycling in 2008 and in the beginning I just went to the After School Programme at the PAY centre. They gave us bikes and we went to cycle on the road every afternoon... Later on we were introduced to top cyclists at training so we started training with them and then it became a passion. That's how I became committed to cycling," he said.

Kashululu also has big dreams, and is determined to realise them.

"I'd like to make it to the Namibian national team and then go to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I'd also like to become a professional cyclist in South Africa," he said.

The PAY team also includes Ananias Ananias, who won the Namibian Cycle Classic in 2008, Jafet Amukushu, Jojoe Hamunyela and Martin Nghilifavali.

The PAY cycling team forms part of the PAY project which was established as an After School Centre in Katutura in 2003.

It is hosted at the Multi Purpose Youth Centre and caters for soccer, basketball, cycling and athletics, while everyone also does swimming at least once a week.

There are about 100 youths at PAY, with about 40 of them specialising in cycling.

The programme director of PAY, Marie Jeanne Ndimbira was understandably proud of their men's cycling team, but said that they also had a talented young female team in the making.

"Our men's team is doing well now, but we also have two junior teams including a junior girls team that we are currently developing into an Elite women's team. They are still one year behind the boys, but in a year's time they will start matching their achievements," she predicted.

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