August 9th, 2017
FE Sports. Photos by Alex Eecen

Balmoral Cycling Club - Developing the Grass Roots

Establishing a lasting genuine relationship with our dealer network and the customers who purchase our products form a large part of the FE Sports belief system so it is important that we align ourselves with representatives, individuals and groups who also share and understand these values. We take a look at one such organisation, The Balmoral Cycling Club and the background behind their Junior and Elite Team development and how support from sponsors, local companies and involvement with the FE Sports Brand Ambassador Program has helped create opportunities and pathways for their members and riders.   

The Balmoral Cycling Club is one of the most well-established cycling clubs in Australia being formed in 1946 among a group of workers in the Hawthorn and Balmoral areas of Brisbane. From the very beginning the club has always been about inclusion and providing opportunities for those interested in racing and the sport of cycling. At the time, most of the members were from a working class background and could not afford specialised cycling jerseys and equipment so it was decided that the club colours would be a simple white t-shirt and from this came the club motto "White Shirt Wins It"! Today the colours may have changed but the history, support and all-inclusive attitude of its members remain along with the original wooden Balmoral Club House moved to the now iconic Murarrie Recreational Reserve and Criterium track from the first racing and club site in the inner city suburb of Hawthorn. Saturday racing at "The Muzz" has now become a Brisbane cycling institution with most grades regularly reaching 80+ riders and the podium hotly contested especially over the summer months. It has even been said that victory in the annual Muzza "Champion of Champions" may actually hold more prestige than many a race on the professional circuit!

A Focus on Development 

Many clubs around Australia including the Balmoral Cycling Club can proudly boast of various individual champions progressing through their ranks to the top of World Cycling but it is the consistent support and development of Grassroots Cycling that stands out as one of the strongest characteristics of the Balmoral Club and its members. Every Saturday after the senior races the Balmoral Club conducts a Junior Development Program under the auspices of qualified coaches and with the objective of encouraging boys and girls in the sport of cycling. The focus of the program is enjoyment, skill development and successful participation. It takes into consideration the fact that children differ in their abilities to acquire skills and to move through various stages of development at their own pace. Riders participate in Junior Development skills sessions followed by racing in Junior A, B or C Grades. The sessions are designed to help riders become proficient in key skills such as cornering, braking, pedalling technique, gearing and wheel following. The supervised racing then allows juniors to compete against riders of similar ability and standard. It helps riders develop essential bunch riding skills and learn about pacing and racing tactics. Road safety and emphasis on the Club's requirement of always adhering to the road rules is also an important feature of the program.

The Balmoral Elite Team

From its formation in 2011 the Balmoral Elite Team was established to tap into a growing demand for talented riders in the Balmoral Cycling Club looking to gain the necessary credentials, skills and experience to progress to a higher level of Elite Cycling. The team offers the opportunity for riders to experience the highest possible level of racing in Queensland and key National events throughout the season. With the already well established junior development program, the need to feed these riders into the higher echelons of the sport has become the teams main objective along with providing them with the experience and skills needed both on and off the bike to pursue a possible career within the sport. This includes exposure to the responsibility of acknowledging sponsors and supporters and the development of mutually beneficial and lasting partnerships. Support from companies and organisations such as O'Donnell Legal, a long lasting sponsor of the Club and the Elite Team and of course FE Sports do not just provide much needed financial or product and equipment help but also valuable lessons for athletes by increasing their awareness and the importance of developing a sense of gratitude and gratefulness rather than an assumption that they are entitled to what has been supplied. 

Kevin White, manager of the Balmoral Elite Team explains. "As a club based team, most of the support the riders receive is provided by the club itself but without additional funds, products and discounts supplied by our sponsors, it would be impossible to fund many of the trips away or attend events that give our athletes the opportunity to reach the level they are capable of. We are realistic about the type of support we request and understand that there is a cost involved with everything and it is very unlikely that a direct return will be immediately visible. This is why it is important to establish a lasting relationship with the sponsors and supporters of the club and to share the responsibility of maintaining this relationship so that it includes the athletes themselves. We acknowledge that it is unlikely that an individual would see one of our riders in a Suomy Helmet, or drinking some Skratch Labs for example and strait away head to their local bike shop and purchase that exact product. But the next time they are in the market for a new helmet or need some nutrition products it may come to mind to consider those brands over another, especially if they know the organisation is helping support developing riders and programs like ours. At the end of the day we are not a UCI World Tour team by any stretch but it is still important that sponsors and supporters get some form of return even if it takes time and may not always be directly financial. Teaching the riders to be appreciative and preparing them for future sponsorship commitments and expectations is also important so regular contact with our sponsors is encouraged. The sponsors, supporters and the Club are all part of a bigger picture by creating opportunities and helping these individuals to follow their dreams so it is important to acknowledge that." 


FE Sports Ambassador Program  

FE Sports support the Balmoral Elite Team via its Brand Ambassador Program where the team use and help represent Suomy Cycling Helmets and Skratch Labs Nutrition. This program offers an opportunity for athletes, teams or individuals to be put forward for consideration by members of our nationwide retailer and dealer network, the distributors of our brands. A large part of our belief system involves the development of trust and credibility and establishing a lasting genuine relationship with this dealer network and of course the customers who purchase our products. It is important that customers feel a connection with both their local store and our products and that they provide a real solution to their sporting or fitness related needs. The perfect person for this role is someone who is engaging, respected and active in the local sporting community. We don't require them to be a top-level athlete but they must be willing to support the store, help drive the business and build a community around the them and the shop. 


FE Sports will be opening Store Level Ambassador applications soon for the 2018 season so if this sounds like you, make sure you stay up to date via and follow the FE Sports Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Social Media pages for more information on the application process. In the meantime make sure you get involved with your local sporting community, pop into your favorite store and support any events or regular shop rides that they offer; And most importantly get out there, be active and share the passion for whatever it is you do!