In Part One of ‘Meet the Wanta Staff’ we are introducing our Lajamanu Sports Academy Director, Simon Blake.
Simon Blake has a varied background in sports, outdoor education and graphic design. He spent many years in recreation and working in the outdoors around Canada as well as Eildon, Australia.
In 2010, after having been to Kenya numerous times as a runner and assistant coach to some of the fastest junior distance runners on earth, he travelled there to be a part of the Kenyan Riders Cycling Team coaching/management staff. The challenge for him was to take the obvious endurance talent of East Africans and get results in bicycle races with the ultimate goal being the Tour de France! Simon says he ‘believes it can happen, but there is still a lot of work to be done from grass roots all the way up to the elite professional level. It’s a slow moving challenge with lots of ‘figuring out’ along the way’.
Simon was in the process of training cyclists, organising events (mountain biking, road races, criteriums, gravel events) and offering trips exploring East Africa by bike on dirt roads and single tracks when Coronavirus hit the country. He made the difficult decision to catch a flight within the next 24 hours back to Australia as he wouldn’t have been able to continue working and the situation was volatile.
Simon began working for Wanta in May and is thoroughly enjoying exploring the new and somewhat different terrain (donkey and horse trails!) in Lajamanu. His role with Wanta encompasses everything from organising sports, student pickups, classroom support, reward trips away, driver education, teaching nutrition and taking students on bush trips. On top of all that, he keeps all of our followers updated with pictures and videos of our daily Wanta adventures on our social media accounts. He says he really enjoys ‘the flexibility of the role and trying to come up with new ideas every day’ He also says he has many plans/ideas/challenges for the students of Lajamanu in the future. It’s great to have you on board, Simon!
We hope you enjoyed this snapshot of one of our amazing staff… there’s lots more to come.