Midland cycle coach launches first Aboriginal youth talent squad


Young cyclists in training: LeMarna Valentine, Rory Charles and Jacqualene Williams.
Picture: Steve Lloyd
Young cyclists in training: LeMarna Valentine, Rory Charles and Jacqualene Williams. Picture: Steve Lloyd

National Cycling Centre WA head development coach Amanda O’Connor said the new program was available to boys and girls in the Perth Hills and Midland areas.

Training sessions with the Indigenous Talent Identification and Development (iTiD) group recently began at the velodrome in Midvale on Monday afternoons.

“The aim for iTid is to take a group of indigenous kids from novice or rank beginner to national competition within two to three years,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Ultimately this is a sporting, rather than just a participation program, and as far as we are aware this is an Australian first.”

Coaches for iTid are pitching to youngsters traditionally offered ball sports who may not engage with team sports.

Students from Clontarf Aboriginal College in Waterford will visit the club later this month.

“Cycling has never had an indigenous participant represent their state or country and that’s our big long term goal for this program,” Ms O’Connor said.

The development club will also run a host of workshops and talks on the topics of nutrition, bike maintenance and mechanics, and health and hygiene for cyclists.

There will be life skills sessions on injury management, together with mentoring from elite riders and other indigenous athletes mostly on Saturday afternoons with a training session to follow the workshops.

The only cost to club members is a one-off registration fee, with equipment such as track bikes and helmets provided.

Each participant will be encouraged by coaches to progress at their own pace with support from the team.

“Beginners can wear shorts, T-shirts and joggers, but when I have enough numbers in the program I will get the kids together to work out a design for their own program kit of a cycling jersey or skin suit,” Ms O’Connor said.

The program will offer insurance through Cycling Australia.

Children with sporting ability, a demonstrable interest in cycling or who are engaged in a competitive sport but looking for something else are encouraged to try out for iTid.

“A natural bent toward our sport is always half the battle won,” Ms O’Connor said.

The first phase of iTid will run to the end of June, culminating in participation events at Perth Winter Track Cycling Grand Prix on the last Sunday in June.

Following the event, participants may move to phase two of the training, which would include fielding a team in the 2016 Pacific Youth Track Tournament in Perth, and State Championships.

The Pacific Youth Track Tournament will highlight local riders and up to 100 invited Under-15 and Under-17 riders from Asia.

“It will be a real multicultural opportunity for all and we will include an indigenous opening ceremony,” Ms O’Connor said.

“I’d like to get to the stage where we have an intake of new kids coming in, while the group before moves through to a higher phase of participation in training, track and road racing, and perhaps some mountain bike training may be an option at some point.”

Ms O’Connor heads up the training team as the specialist track coach, along with performance cycling coaches Adelia Reyneke and Chris Sellings.

Mentors will include indigenous coach Ken Nicholls and senior riders from WA racing team Sataylst Verve.