After making a difference on the pitch, Peckham football coach Mulenga Chafilwa is now making a difference on the road after completing the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.
Chafilwa, 24, was taught how to play football by coaches from the Greenhouse Sports charity, and has now worked his way up through the organisation’s Coach Core programme to become an instructor himself.
Looking for a new challenge, and following the charity’s link with the biggest cycling festival in the world, Chafilwa completed his first long-distance bike ride at the RideLondon event on Sunday.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience, I really enjoyed myself,” he said.
“To be there on the day, be part of everyone riding off as one, it was absolutely exhilarating.
“It was breathtaking to be out on the road and take on the different challenges that came my way, hills, eating, it was really amazing.
“There were great sights to see, the hills were difficult, but I had my water, gels, and I was able to make it and enjoy it at the same time.”
When Chafilwa was growing up, in a rough neighbourhood in Peckham, football was his only outlet but thanks to the efforts of Greenhouse Sports, the shy and isolated teenager flourished into a confident and focussed adult.
Following a meeting with Sir Bradley Wiggins earlier in the year, at the launch of the 46-mile route, Chafilwa left with a head full of ideas and focussed his spare time on training for the biggest ride of his life.
And after making it round safe and secure, Chafilwa was glad to say his hard work and planning had paid off.
“The training was actually really enjoyable. Prior to it then I really did have to do a lot of training, learn to pace myself,” he added.
“I took things step by step. I had a target and a plan all the way through this process, I wanted to go just five miles at a time, five, ten, 15.
“Then once I got comfortable with that then I knew I had the fitness levels to do the event and I’m so glad I was able to do it, I was thrilled.”
Prudential RideLondon was developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies in 2013, and was designed to be a world class festival of cycling, as well as providing a tangible legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Follow first-time charity riders on their journey to Prudential RideLondon at pru.co.uk/inspire