Thank goodness for red wine and personal challenges because if it was not for that Barry Mocke might never have become CyclingSA’s chief executive officer (CEO) and be a ‘’Puff Adder”.
For the past 17 years Mocke who has a Masters degree in Business Administration has made his presence felt in the hard and sometime merciless business world.
A personal highlight for him was while working for Somerset Educational (Pty) Ltd where he played a major role to transform the company’s annual turnover from the initial R3 million to a significant R30 million per annum.
This is just one example of how Mocke through his ever present passion, drive, commitment and vision has made a difference.
If one studies his CV in the financial world it is basically one success story following another.
But then Mocke has never been one for all work and no play. Sport has always been one of his big passions.
At Potchefstroom Boys High School where he matriculated it was a case one could name the sport and the young Mocke would have been able to put up his hand and said: ‘’Yes I have been there, done that and got the T-shirt to prove it.”
He excelled in rugby, cricket, squash, athletics, biathlon, tennis and chess, earning provincial colors in four different sporting codes.
A little bit of interesting trivia is that Mocke and South Africa’s BMX-hero, Sifiso Nhlapo, both matriculated at Potch Boys High.
But it was not the Olympian who got Mocke to cycle.
Mocke takes up the story of how he started to cycle and in the process became a Puff Adder.
“I am a relative latecomer to cycling. In 2004, after a couple of bottles of red wine at a ‘braai’ my brother-in-law, Neil Frazer, challenged me to riding the Cape Epic.
“Always one for a challenge, I told him that I would ride provided that he got me an entry. What I did not know at the time was that Neil had become friendly with Kevin Vermaak (organizer) at the first Epic. That resulted in us getting an entry to the Epic.
“ I completed the 2005 Epic and have since ridden many multi-stage MTB events. Most of my riding is off road and notable exception is the 94.7 where I have a best time of 2:42 (2008).
“ I ride with the folk at Cyclelab that call themselves the Puff Adders. We are fatter, bear in mind that round is a shape, and slower than the race snakes, but we can still be dangerous!
“We fit into the group of cyclists who are obviously recreational but serious about riding and racing. Fun and enjoyment is our priority.
“Since I am passionate about sport and South Africa. I have for a number of years wondered how I could get into the management and administration of sport without getting involved in the politicking that all too frequently dominates sports administration.
“Like most SA sports supporters, I am frequently disappointed by the negative and adverse affects that administration sometimes has on sport.
“Towards the end of last year I saw an ad placed by CSA in the Sunday Times. I cut it out but did not respond to it immediately. After about a week of consideration I submitted my application. I went through the interviewing and selection process at the beginning of the year and started in March.
“Although I initially did not believe that I had a chance in being chosen because I did not come from a cycling administrative background but in the end I think it counted in my favour because I come with no “cycling baggage” or political affiliations.”
Mocke see his job as CEO to run Cycling South Africa on good sound business principles.
“We are in the process of finalizing our new strategy. There are many elements to this strategy but a key factor is the access to finance. In order to achieve success we need to develop, grow and maintain multiple revenue streams.
“I have personal beliefs associated with national pride and wanting to affect change, for everyone, in SA through our beautiful sport.
“There are so many opportunities for us, we need to recognize them and take action.”
One of the big dilemma’s in South African cycling since being readmitted to the international arena is to find a balance between recreational cycling and professional cycling which also entails winning medals at the Olympic Games or World Championships.
The general feeling in the media is that the emphasis has been too much on the fun element of cycling.
Mocke has his own views on the issue.
“Whilst we need to be internationally competitive we must recognize and understand that we are South African and we have to find solutions that fit SA. We are a leading Cycling For All nation, we cannot compromise this.
“Recreational cycling is incredibly popular in SA. Rather than diminish its importance I would like to see us grow and make this much better. We have to provide to our membership value and benefits. As a nation we are incredibly competitive so events form an integral part of our plans.
“We also need to ensure that cycling is both accessible and equitable. We will find ways to lower the barriers to entry. We will promote cycling to previously disadvantaged communities, women and disabled people.
“Regarding elite cycling; there can be little doubt that our calendar does little to promote internationally competitive cyclists. This is a matter that is being addressed immediately. We are in the process of aligning the calendar and developing national events and series.
“There is a bit of the “chicken and egg” scenario though, as we will also need to secure the necessary finances to make this a reality.
“We also have plans for High Performance Programs that are very different to what we have done in the past.”
Another big problem in South African cycling is that it seems as if CyclingSA as the official governing body has lost control over the sport as far as events being organized and the way cycling is being used by everybody to make money but very little is put back into the sport.
“CyclingSA is taking back control of the sport! We have to. We have a mandate from government to do this and a responsibility to all people who ride bicycles to do this.
“CyclingSA must accept that there we have allowed the current situation to develop. There are many race organizers who run fantastic events. There are also unfortunately events that are less good. We cannot compromise on safety and quality and will be working very hard to improve this. All events need to be sanctioned. Unsanctioned events will not be allowed to take place.
“There are standards and minimum requirements that race organizers have to meet. CSA, through its provincial affiliates, need to manage and monitor this process.
“CyclingSA is going to host our own events. These events will cater specifically to elite riders but will also be available to the cycling fraternity.”
As far as the fact that CyclingSA never seems to have sufficient funds Mocke agrees that the national body does not benefit from revenues generated within the industry.
“We need to change this. This does not have to happen through increased fees but rather through better collection and management. We are also working very hard at creating other revenue streams.
“A key part of this is clearly sponsorship. But in order for this to be viable we have to clean up our act and offer potential sponsors products and properties that are attractive. It must be remembered that all funds coming to CSA are used directly for the benefit of cycling in SA.”