Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
EUROPE-BOUND Zimbabwean junior motocross champion rider, Emmanuel Bako, yesterday got a shot in the arm when Betterbrands Investments pledged their continued support for him in his European sojourn.
The 14-year-old dirt bike rider is set to take his training to Europe this year under EMX Motocross Academy based in France.
He will be under the guidance of Joe Tavares of EMX Motocross Academy and his main base will be in France.
Bako has been competing locally and in South Africa, where he has shown enormous potential, winning some of the competitions in the neighbouring country.
The shift of his training base to Europe is expected to give him exposure and more competition as he seeks to take his racing to the next level.
Tavares said they have scheduled his training to take off later this month.
And yesterday, Betterbrands Investments, who have been supporting Bako of late, committed themselves to continue bankrolling the youngster in his quest to become a fully-fledged professional motocross rider.
Vimbai Shoko, the Betterbrands Investments marketing manager, said they are very happy to be associated with Bako as he has been doing well both locally and regionally.
“We are very grateful to be among those rallying behind such a young talent like Emmanuel Bako whom we have monitored since he was young. His brand has been professional ever since and it showed a lot of potential which did not make us doubt anything on engaging him.
“For him to compete with the best, he needs such support so that he can reach his full potential,” said Shoko.
Bako last year made history when he became the first foreigner to be crowned a triple motocross champion in South Africa.
He first won a Northern Regions Championship. Bako then claimed the Inland Championship title and went on to take home the overall 85cc Pro Mini Class title in the 2021 South African National Motocross Championship series.
This saw Betterbrands Investments, through their chief executive, Scott Sakupwanya, pouring out US$10 000 to Bako for his remarkable achievement.
Speaking during yesterday’s event where the jewellery and gold dealers renewed their partnership with him, Bako said he was happy that he has such support and will endeavour to do well when he goes to Europe.
“I would like to thank Betterbrands Investments for showing faith in me by supporting me and I promise I will do my best.
“It is everyone’s dream to join such a reputable academy like EMX Motocross Academy and have such high profile trainer like Joe Tavares whom I have worked with before,” said Bako.
Bako’s father and manager, Brighton, who has been supportive of his son said he is happy to have the backing of Betterbrands Investments who have been with them for quite some time now.
“I am very excited to have my son get such support from the business partners. For Emmanuel to get a full sponsorship it comes as a relief to us as a family as we need to see him prosper.
“He grew up playing football but as he was growing up, we saw his interest was more on the bike so we decided to help him follow his dream . . . We will continue to give him the much-needed support.
“Our thrust will not, however, remain on motocross as we will afford him his time for education. During the past year he would balance sport and education and we saw that he is very capable,” Brighton Bako said.
Emmanuel’s trainer, Tavares, recently told The Herald that it was high time that young Emmanuel got exposed to the tough environment of motocross racing in Europe.
“We kick-off his training late January and most of February where we move down to the South of France and Spain for European winter training. During this time he will also have the opportunity to train with some of the top European riders in his category and to up his game. He will be introduced to the latest racing techniques, mental preparation and the highest level of physical preparation.
“He will not lose a minute of schooling as he will have access to on-line education and a personal tutor throughout his training as schooling plays an important part of his training and to plan his educational future,” said Tavares. Tavares revealed that they have been engaging with Bako’s father, Brighton, on the future of the young rider who has shown potential. Essentially, what is happening is that we have been working with this natural talent and extremely passionate family, and Emmanuel Bako has now reached the stage where his talents are hopelessly lost in Africa, and especially South Africa, in terms of racing and also the depth of the fields he is racing against.
“He has totally dominated his field and as you know he recently won the SA championships!!
“I have been discussing his motocross future with Brighton for a number of years now and we have decided to introduce Manu by throwing him into the deep end of European and International Motocross Racing for our EMX Academy based in France.
“He is now fully licensed and engaged to race in France in the National Series and the higher 24 MX Elite Championships . . . In addition to this he will also partake in some national and international championships in Italy, Holland and Belgium,” said Tavares.
Bako was also a double winner at the Zimbabwe Summer Series where he walked away with the 85cc and 125cc titles in December last year.