After going for several months without allowances for riders the African Dream team has indefinitely been dissolved, Newsday has learned.
The team had eight riders with four of them continuing to be on the payroll of the sponsors but that has since stopped due to funds running out.
According to the team’s Manager, Mark West, they could no longer afford to pay the riders monthly allowances due to the lack of sponsors owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. They therefore, decided to disband the team and allow the riders to compete in different races of their choice until the African Dream team can secure full sponsors.
“Since 2020 none of the riders has received full allowance. We have been receiving little sponsorships which we have reserved for when the competitions resume,” West said.
From 2013 the team’s title sponsor had been Sufferfest which is a training application developed by American David McQuillen. However, since 2019 when the partnership ended there has not been any title sponsor.
It is not a surprise that the team has had to be dissolved as Covid-19 has disrupted a lot of sporting activities around the world. This was also confirmed by West who said the pandemic has indeed worsened the situation for them.
“Covid-19 has delayed plans of finding an alternative sponsor and without sponsorship we cannot do much. It is very difficult at this point to say what the plan will be going forward. But the riders understand as the situation was worsened by Covid-19,” said West.
The team has been in formidable form since its formation and continued to improve over the years whilst producing some of the best riders in the country some of whom have even gone on to represent Lesotho at the world’s biggest stages.
Amongst some of its products is star rider Phethetso Monese, who is the former national champion as well as Tumelo Makae who is currently in Switzerland preparing for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Speaking to Newsday, Makae said he is aware of how bad an impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had to the rest of the world especially sports so he understands but said it is still a huge blow for the riders.
“To some riders, this is just as good losing a job so it is a huge blow. However, I understand because of the pandemic,” he said.
Among its many successes over the years, the team became the first in Africa to be licensed under the International Cycling Union since 2014. The Covid-19 pandemic came at a time when the team was looking to add more riders from other countries in African (Kenya and Morocco) as it was only built with riders from Lesotho and Botswana.