Starting an MTB Club for Kids

Have you ever thought that your local riding scene could do with a program to help young riders get into the sport in a safe, supportive, and structured environment? The Coot-tha Kids MTB Club has been running a successful program for 7 years and they've kindly offered to make all of their documented syllabus, grading, lesson plans, accounts, procedures, etc available to anyone that's interested All FREE of charge! Read on for some more info on what the Coot-tha Kids MTB Club is all about.

Cootha Kids Club

Coot-tha Kids started in 2015 as a handful of parents getting together with their own kids and inviting others to join them in sharing their love of MTB with the next generation. The team was led by a passionate, entertaining and inspirational French man named Frank Fontaine. His energy and vision were infectious and have gone down in club legend.

The joy that this simple concept created for the kids was obvious just from seeing them on their bikes in their group with Frank encouraging them to get in their ‘angry chicken’ position. Numbers grew by word of mouth or as a result of meeting the group on the trails at Gap Creek Reserve, Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane.

Cootha Kids Club 2
Cootha Kids Club 3

Demand quickly outstripped the number of coaches (only 8 kids are permitted per coach) so a waitlist began. The quest to get more parents accredited as MTBA Level 0 and Level 1 coaches also began. For each coach that we added, we could welcome an additional 8 kids to the club. Eventually, we reached a capacity at which the land manager inevitably had to ask us to stop growing and so the waitlist started to grow even more quickly.

The only solution to the capacity challenge was to encourage other like-minded individuals and adult mountain bike clubs to start their own kids club at their trail parks and use our program as the template.

We have now shared our program with some of the best clubs in South East Queensland including:

  • RATS
  • CORCA
  • Gold Coast MTB Club

We also started a 2nd club of our own – Ironbark Kids MTB and hope to start Bunya Kids MTB within the year.

We are now trying to help clubs right across Australia to start their own Kids MTB Clubs and currently have 19 organisations beginning the process.

We share all of our supporting material free of charge including:

  • Kids Club Handbook
  • Syllabus
  • Lesson Plans

These documents explain everything that is required to start and operate a successful kids MTB club. There is no need for anyone to reinvent the wheel, just connect with us and we will help anyone that wants to enjoy the same extraordinary success and fun that we have seen over the last 7 years. It’s effectively a ‘free franchise’ model.

We want to see a kids club at every trail park in Australia. To give you an idea of scale, there are 22 trail parks in our corner of SEQ alone.

The target is 100 clubs with 50 kids by 2027. That’s 5,000 kids in the program getting taught how to ride safely, have fun, enjoy the bush and discover an amazing sport where no one keeps score and you can build an incredible lifelong healthy and mentally stimulating passion.

Alongside the Kids MTB Club, it quickly became obvious that there was another under represented segment within the MTB community, and so the ladies club was born – Coot-tha Sistas. Currently sitting at well over 100 members and growing, this group of awesome ladies get together for rides, coached sessions, and social events, as well as regular MTB trips to Derby.

The community spirit that is created by the Kids MTB Club environment is extraordinary. It is no exaggeration to say that the parents have as much fun as the kids. It is an immersive experience. No dump and run here! Even parents that don’t ride are able to engage and help the coaches with the younger kids by catching, organising, and encouraging them during their sessions.

New parents at the club don’t sit on the sidelines and watch. They join in, meet other parents with an interest aligned with their own, and form lifelong friendships themselves. It usually only takes a few weeks before a new parent approaches the club and asks “hey, how do I become a coach?” because they can see just how much fun we are all having.

Cootha Kids Club 4

The club is actively engaged with the land managers that provide the permits for us to use their forests. We work with trail care groups and provide financial support, tools and labour. Whilst teaching the kids how to ride their bikes, we are also teaching them how to stay safe, respect other forest users, trail etiquette and the joy that is created through riding their bikes in the forest.

We have end of term parties, celebrity guests, we go ‘on tour’ for some of our Sunday sessions to visit other trail parks, and we have a winter camp which the kids will tell you is the best event of their whole year.

Cootha Kids Club 5

Just as there are opportunities for kids to play virtually any ball sport in any town, we want to see kids across Australia have access to their own Kids MTB Club. Creating that MTB opportunity for kids, is our goal so regardless of whether you are a large established MTB club or, as we were, just a group of parents with kids that ride, please reach out to us and we will help you create something extraordinary!

Check out the Coot-tha Mountain Bike Club website for more info about their kids program and get in touch with Mike at cootthamtb@gmail.com to register your interest.

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