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Lunsar Cycling Team: helping young people in Sierra Leone

 

We check in with Karim ­Kamara – captain of the Speak-sponsored Lunsar Cycling Team in Sierra Leone. We chat about the team’s recent successes, helping young people in the area – and how their cycling jerseys are the talk of the town.

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How are things in Lunsar?

It’s harvesting season, which is a really busy time of year.  We live in a small town with a population of only 5,000, so everyone has to get involved and it can be hard to fit in our training.

How has the team been getting on lately?

We took part in the Tour of Makeni 2018 two weeks ago and managed to finish fourth. It’s a huge competition and we’re delighted to do so well, it was our best result of the season.

We’ve got another big race coming up in Freetown, which is the capital here in Sierra Leone. It’s going to be tough, not least because it’s three hours away and we have to organise our transport, but we are hoping to get a team down to compete. 

How often do you train?

We train four times a week and try to cover different distances, usually between 60-120km. We tend to cycle around the edge of town and lots of local people come out to watch us.

Have you had any new recruits?

We’re really growing as a team, and currently have 28 members. We recently recruited some older people who are interested in improving their physical fitness, and cycling has really helped them. So many people want to get involved – which is a very good sign!

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How have the club benefitted from sponsorship?

Your sponsorship allows us to really help young people in Lunsar. It’s brilliant, every day we have new kids wanting to join the team.

We’re also really proud of the cycling jerseys that Speak sent over. Even the Sierra Leonean national cycling team don’t have tops like we do! They’re really special.

What challenges have you faced as a club recently?

The main challenge has been transportation. We need a pick-up truck to transport our bikes to and from competitions, which are often far away.

The other issue is keeping our bikes in good shape. I’m a bike mechanic so I can fix most things, but parts are expensive. It’s very hard to come by new parts in Sierra Leone so we try and find second hand ones.

What are your goals for the team? 

Eventually I would love to see us reach the African Continental Championships and the Commonwealth Games – it would be great for the young people of Lunsar.


 
Roisin McCormack