Funmi Ogundare

In effort aimed at enhancing the academic performance and physical fitness of students, a total of 180 students drawn from three education districts in Lagos, are set to participate in the school cycling competition, organized by the African Cycling Foundation (ACF), in partnership with Simba Group, Sterling Bank and Cycology Riding Club.

The competition which will hold on September 21 and 22, at the Teslim Balogun, Stadium, Surulere, would feature public school students in JS one to three being accessed on their talents.

Addressing journalists in Lagos, the President of the foundation, Mr. Yemi Osilaja stressed the need for a cycling culture in the country so that children can begin to benefit at a very young age.

The move, he said, would keep them alert physically and mentally.

According to him, “Most of the children are the ones always left behind. We want to ensure that schools are involved in the culture of cycling , not just for adults alone, as this helps their education. We need to catch them young and we are going to be identifying their talents and nurture them.”

Osilaja who expressed passion about cycling recalled when his foundation had to give out bicycles to some schools in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos, saying that they found out that the students had to trek long distances to school from their homes.

As a result, he said the girls sometimes end up getting raped by hoodlums, got pregnant and end up dropping out of school.

“So when we gave them the bicycles, the parents felt that once their children ride their bicycles to school at the same time, a level of safety will be achieved. The Lagos State government is trying to put a policy together that would ensure that not only car owners are on the road, but also those who can cycle. We need to teach our children the rudiments of cycling and become more responsible to their future,” he stressed.

The Captain, Cycology Riding Club, Mrs. Bimpe Olufemi expressed delight about the partnership with ACF saying, “ They do a lot of things because they are proud of our mission and vision on grassroot cycling. They try to develop kids at a younger level so that as they grow older , they will have a passion for the sports and they will continue even when they are older . We work together to ensure that we have potential cyclists who can go on to the international level and become professional cyclist.”

She emphasised on safety on our roads saying, “When we cycle, a lot of people ask us how do you cycle on Lagos roads? This is one of the things that we have been doing for six years, we have not had any deaths ,though we had a few accidents, but not fatal.

“We have several precautions that we have put in place when we are doing cycling. In the same vein, we noticed that a lot of motorists on the road, do not have time for cyclists, so we decided to initiate a ‘Share the Road’ campaign which is a global initiative that we are bringing to Nigeria because we think it is important for everybody to be aware that the road is for everyone.”

Olufemi affirmed the need for everybody to obey the rules of the road so as to ensure safety.

“That is a key initiative that we are doing and we are going to be working with private , public partners including government. We are trying to look at a healthy lifestyle, there is a need for us to develop a nation of healthy people because if people are healthier, they are happier, the government will spend less on healthy care services.”

The Assistant Director, Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Rahmon Murtala expressed optimism about the partnership with the foundation to promote sports in the school system.