FQM’S MINE2MINE ROAD RACE GIVES HOPE TO ZAMBIA’S CYCLING
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – North-Western Province was buzzing at the weekend when over 90 riders including South African-based cycling legend Anriette Schoeman competed in one of Zambia’s premier road races, First Quantum Minerals Kansanshi Mining’s annual 2022 edition of the 140km Mine2Mine road race. The road race, which attracted riders from as far as Mazabuka in Southern Province, saw them compete in three gruelling categories from the 140km race for the elite riders, 75km for the upcoming riders to the 21 km junior category. The firm started sponsoring the Mine2Mine road race in 2014. The road race was however suspended in 2021, because of COVID-19.
Speaking after taking part in the 75km category, the president of the Cycling Association of Zambia Andrew Chibuye said with the right investment, Zambian riders have the talent to qualify and compete at the Olympics. “We got the talent, but I think we need a bit more investment for the equipment, for the training, and just the basics… and It’s a minor sport; it hasn’t been as high profile and well supported as the others, but that’s a big opportunity because once that starts happening, it will benefit everyone.
But First Quantum has been a fantastic partner for us for the last few years. They’ve helped to keep the sport afloat. We are seeing more interest from corporates now, and so what we are expecting is that those that are coming in will supplement the efforts of First Quantum,” he said. Mr Chibuye further said that cycling can also be used as a tool to help keep young people from bad vices, as well as help them get scholarships. “It’s a fantastic sport. It keeps you on the straight and narrow. A lot of guys that we mentor through the association, through the clubs, have found that it is a lot easier when you look at their performance at school. Because it is very difficult to be cycling and to be involved in different vices, your body can’t allow it. It (cycling) has an avenue to help keep the young ones out of various vices. But in addition to that, where the future is going. Sport itself can be an opportunity for scholarships, for furthering your education as a student-athlete. But you can only do that if you are a strong athlete and a strong student as well.” Speaking at the same event, FQM Kansanshi Mining Public Relations Manager Godfrey Msiska said that the main objective of sponsorship of the sport was to identify local talent.
“This race is meant to test how well these cyclists can perform. Because Kansanshi Mining has been sponsoring this sport for a number of years now. And the mine2mine race itself, we started sponsoring it in 2014. “The objective of us developing this sport in this part of the world is to identify talent, and there is a lot of it here in North-Western Province. And we have a number of riders here that have been competing internationally. They’ve been competing in Namibia, in South Africa, they’ve been to Rwanda, and they have done well. They’ve recorded major achievements in those competitions. Which puts us in good stead in terms of the future,” he continued. And Ms Schoeman said the future of Africa’s cycling is bright, and that the standards of racing in Zambia are high. “I think there is a lot of potential here in Zambia, and I would really hope for sponsors to look at this and maybe see the potential that these riders have,” she said. FQM supports several sports disciplines in North-western Province including cycling, rowing, football, athletics, and swimming. Through the Kansanshi Sports Foundation, the company has also partnered with the Kansanshi Golf Estate to promote golf, tennis, pool, squash, putting, beach volleyball, and netball in schools as part of a broad programme aimed at improving the quality of education and expanding career prospects for Solwezi residents.