Earlier this year, on a cold sunday morning we, at High Path estate, visited the other estates that were chosen for a proposed regeneration – Eastfields was first up, then Ravensbury.
It was a casual, fact finding mission and it was clearly noticeable that the estates need more than a lick of paint. What was most evident, in Eastfields’ case especially was the strong bond that they had with their local surroundings.
The Ravensbury estate sits between the green and splendid Ravensbury Park and equally proud, Morden Hall Park.
Eastfields’ charm, however, is different. The site is not as close to a vast, green and pleasant land: Mitcham Common is a steady 15 minutes walk away from the outskirts of the estate.
So, for the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow on Eastfields estate – what to do?
Build something for our young people to be challenged by was most probably what somebody said. On our visit we could see an adventure playground but more challenging is a BMX track managed by, Merton Saints BMX.
The track is housed within the estate and it shows that when a facility is maintained and loved by local people, it can produce a positive outcome if honed and nurtured in the right way.
Gone are the days of the 80’s when BMX riding was for the disenfranchised and sulky delinquent (not that that is necessarily a bad thing). Now in this new era, we see sponsorship deals awarded to the professional riders; and with an added injection of progression, the sport has been globally recognised and is notably an Olympic event (since 2008).
Merton Saint BMX demonstrates that with the support of funding, and, the guidance of experienced coaches what can be achieved if an outlet is allowed to prosper and healthily encouraged.
So without further ado we should all extend our hearty congratulations to the coaches, riders, parents and guardians connected to Merton Saint BMX as we applaud fresh news that was released recently.
Eleven of their riders have been selected for the World Championships, 21-25 July, in Belgium. Yes, eleven riders! Not one or two token wins from a small group, but eleven strong and brave athletes, determined to take their skills to the global stage.
The level of strength required to maintain a strong body position whilst landing from performing a trick in the air, with a bike, is immense. The level of bravery and courage to even contemplate such a feat is equally as high. The opportunities that this gives to the people of Eastfields are too many to mention and amongst these are the transferable skills you can take into other walks of life – regular bike maintenance, for example, is a key component that riders must master to enable their two wheeled instruments to elevate them to those dizzy heights, a loose nut out of place will land you in A&E very quickly!
To add to this, statistics have shown that as a sport it is one of the most inclusive and calorie burning activities for people to pursue – surf boarding, snowboarding, and downhill skiing are just a few of the other non contact/combative sports that achieve the equivalent fat burning levels but crucially training or competing at these events comes with a significantly higher burden, in financial terms.
In an age where the computer is king/queen and opportunities are few and far between for people to extend themselves appropriately, it is heartening to see this group go beyond the norm and excel where others might have written themselves off.
Take a bow Eastfields: onwards and upwards.