On International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we put the spotlight on the only African-registered UCI WorldTeam, Team Qhubeka ASSOS.
The 27 riders on the South African-registered team represent 16 nations. Despite their diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages, they have a common motivation that goes beyond winning races: they also aim to inspire hope and create opportunity.
The team is strongly linked to the Qhubeka charity, that donates bicycles as part of the charity programme in South Africa. As Team Qhubeka ASSOS Principal Douglas Ryder explains, the riders use their presence on the global stage to make a lasting impact on gender equality, racial equality, access to education, humanity and entrepreneurialism.
Their jerseys bear the powerful Zulu word Ubuntu, meaning Humanity, or “I am because we are”.
South African team member Nic Dlamini explains: “It’s basically different from other teams because it’s a team that races for greater purpose. Now that we’ve got Ubuntu at the back of our jersey makes it even more powerful.”
Teammate Simon Clarke, from Australia, adds: “It provides a different motivation to get out there and fight, to represent our brand as Qhubeka ASSOS as opposed to just commercial motives. This increases the desire to perform and honour the jersey and help raise funds for people who really need bikes.”
Founded in 2007, Team Qhubeka ASSOS (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) became the first-ever African cycling team to gain a UCI WorldTour licence, in 2016. That was also the year that then team-member Mark Cavendish wore the coveted yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
The team is ambassador for Laureus, the global organisation that uses the power of sport to transform lives. The first patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. Douglas Ryder recalls: “Our 1st Tour de France we rode in 2015 as Africa’s 1st ever registered team in the Tour, we ended up winning our 1st ever stage on Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Magic!”
International recognition for work achieved
In 2019, the team was honoured in the Beyond Sport Awards, winning the award for best corporate campaign or initiative in Sport for Good.
Douglas Ryder is rightly proud that Team Qhubeka ASSOS has raised over 5M euro for charity through the team, its riders and partners. It has created jobs and hope for people in a community in the North West Province of South Africa. To date, the team has raised funds for more than 30,000 bicycles.
Italian Giacomo Nizzolo joined Team Qhubeka ASSOS in 2019 and remains marked by his first trip to South Africa to distribute bikes to children: “It was really emotional. It is something that is still in my mind. I think it will stay in my mind forever, to see in the eyes of these kids their feelings. They were emotional as well. It’s something that inspired me and brings me motivation every day, even in dark moments in races, I really think about this. That’s why I think this team is special.”
After his magnificent 2nd place at Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields last Sunday, 28 March, he said: This is an important result for our team and the Qhubeka Charity. Bicycles change lives, and it is so important for us to bring this message to such an important race as today.”
Douglas Ryder concludes: “We continue to fight to remain sustainable as a team and to continue to change people’s lives one bicycle at a time.”
Photo credits: Damian Murphy