(Published - 18 March 2019)
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) staff and students will rub shoulders with top international executives and get exposed to a world-class event when they take part in the 16th edition of the Absa Cape Epic.
The two staff members and 52 students from the Department of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science (SRES) in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (CHS) will fulfill numerous roles at the event. These include host drivers (which is like team managers), sports massage therapists, doping control officers for the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, waterpoint branding, VIP race tours, merchandise store staff and race logistics.
The annual mountain bike stage race in the Western Cape covers more than 700 kilometres (435 miles) over eight days and attracts elite professional mountain bikers from around the world, who compete in teams of two. This year the event takes place from 17 to 24 March.
Dr Barry Andrews, senior lecturer and coordinator of the project, has been involved in the race 13 times and believes it is of great benefit to students and staff. “I saw an opportunity to involve the students for exposure, experience and creating networks,” he explains. “I saw the benefits and advantages that the Epic offered and so, starting small, I got our students into the event.”
Dr Andrews said SRES uses this event to show students what goes into a global event, and to give them a chance to meet and network with leaders in the sporting world that they would normally not have easy access to.
He said the event is a chance to showcase its students and the University among a population that has often not heard of UWC before. Since 2015 UWC has had among the highest representation of students in the Cape Epic, and this year the University has partnered with the neighbouring Cape Peninsula University of Technology, whose students will be under the supervision of UWC staff.
Students, some having participated in the event before, agreed with Dr Andrews and spoke highly of the Cape Epic. “I first volunteered to work on the event as a second-year student,” said Farzaanah Soeker. “What made me come back year after year is the exposure of students and new graduates to such a world class event. Every experience is different and it allows for growth in our field of work, and most importantly, the enjoyment of knowing we can play a role in such a well-known and well established event.”
Michell Lucas said the event creates a platform for sport science students to learn more about planning such a huge international event. “It also gives us as Sport Science students the opportunity to showcase the skills that we obtain from our department (SRES), such as massaging.”