CYCLING roadshows have been introduced in schools by the Sports Coaching and Development Unit of the Department of Youth and Sports.
One such roadshow took place at the Lambak Kiri Secondary School yesterday which attracted some 1,300 students.
The aim is to encourage teenagers to take up competitive cycling to maintain the sport's continuity and replace ageing cyclists, said a coach from the unit.
Omar Ali Hj Ibrahim said this was necessary as the sport was not popular among teenagers, and he hopes the roadshows will pay dividends in the near future in the form of increased interest from students.
"Hopefully, this can one day translate into an inter-school cycling competition, something which has never happened before," he told The Brunei Times.
"Previously, we have conducted many roadshows and talent identification programmes for sports such as football and karate... but not really for cycling, so we are doing this as part of preparations for the 2019 SEA Games," he said.
"Most of the cyclists that we have now are aged about 30, which means that they can compete at a high level only for another two years. So we need young people to replace them."
National cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin agreed, saying that targeting schools was the right move as it would catch potential cyclists early and give them a few years of training ahead of international competitions.
"The majority of cyclists start about 16 and already have a background in football. They then decide to focus on cycling and further build their endurance and stamina," he said.
However, he felt much work was still needed as cycling faced an uphill battle to generate interest among students who were more inclined towards football.
"It's not easy because, unlike football, most schools do not have a cycling programme," he said.
Expenses were also another challenge — a professional bike could cost $12,000 or more.
"There are cheaper options available, but a good bicycle can be quite expensive, so parents are reluctant to have their children take up the sport competitively," said Omar Ali.
However, there was a bright side in terms of better chances to represent the country.
The Brunei Times