Updated: Feb 23, 2020
In the centre of Burgess Park, just next to Albany Road, lies a BMX track. The track, established in 2014, is home to Peckham BMX Club which runs BMX training sessions for children and adults across the week. I headed down on a sunny, crisp Saturday morning in January to speak to founder and coach, CK Flash (Michael Pusey MBE) as he rushes between meetings, about the history of the club and his developing role in the community.
When I arrive, the tarmac is already buzzing with kids and parents, coaches setting up cones, bikes and helmets everywhere. While I wait for CK to arrive, I spend some time watching the sessions and speaking to parents. What is so obvious initially is the dedication of the coaches and the strict nature of the sessions. The kids throw themselves up the ramp to the start gate at will. “Who’s awake?” shouts the coach. A few hands go up. This constant aural measuring of focus is a running theme which continues throughout. Other questions follow: “Does everyone know what they’re doing?”, “What did I just say?” and “Who’s listening?” are common ones. The coaches today - Nigel and Timmy - provide encouragement throughout the track laps and the kids seem eager. Their high standard of organisation and safety is unquestionable, and this level of rigidity is something I find CK believes is crucial for the success of the riders.
When CK arrives, he has a presence about him and people flock to him as he crosses the tarmac. Just a quick Google search uncovers why. As well as being a professional DJ, he’s dedicated most of his time to helping others - particularly the youth. He’s been on TV, radio, starred in a documentary, trains and manages Olympic champions, mentors teenagers, shows them “how they can invest and save their money rather than spending it wastefully”, has helped find funding for multiple BMX tracks, is just opening a children’s home, ‘Safe House’, and has even received an MBE from the Queen.
As he divulges the club’s history, his tenacity and passion is evident. Having initially transformed a disused BMX track on Commercial Way with funding from the council back in 2003, and finding it helped integrate children from different postcodes, he realised the potential and started training kids from all over - employing a weightlifting coach and nutritionist - before the kids were eventually winning every BMX competition around... British, National, European, and even World championships. This rise to fame was chronicled in the 2014 documentary ‘One Way Up’ which aired on MTV, Netflix and iTunes.
Following this success, CK campaigned tirelessly for a full-size new track to be built. Attending every council meeting, convincing residents that they were “more than kids just smoking in the streets”, and taking all the BMX champions along with him, eventually paid off... and in 2014, Peckham BMX Club had a new home in Burgess Park.
This year, between takes on an up-coming TV show with Sky, CK wants to continue to build on the Club’s success by improving the existing track, as well as amalgamating three other clubs - Brixton, Merton and Thornton Heath - into Peckham BMX. On top of that, he’s got plans to build a skatepark with parkour and climbing walls neighbouring the existing BMX track in Burgess Park.
When it comes to most things, CK doesn’t like hearing excuses: Whether it’s about the community’s responsibility to invest in their community centres or the riders’ desires to earn money and become successful, he believes that anything is possible if you take the right steps and put in enough effort - particularly when it comes to the club. “If this funding for the track ran out, I know within myself that the club would still run. This is what I’ve done for years. I’ve made the club run when it’s had no money. Or when it’s run out of money, I’ve put money in myself. I’ve made sacrifices to make sure the kids have the best facility.”
COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION
He believes the success of the club is down to the strict nature of the sessions - “as you can see... everybody’s serious, everybody’s focused” - but moreover, it’s about commitment and dedication from the riders, even if that means making sacrifices: “The minute you give anybody anything for free they don’t see any value in it.” For CK, success is something to be earned, so any riders serious about competing have to earn their way up the ladder, meaning each time they get to the next stage, they are given more support, time and resources. And it’s clear to see it’s working, as the club has multiple riders with World titles and others this year “tipped to win”.
There’s a friendly atmosphere all around and some of CK’s staff have worked with him longer than a decade. Before I leave, I glance quickly over to the track to see a gang of children fly down the ramp, grab their drinks and begin vigorously jugging. “It’s a quick drink, not a picnic. Hurry up!” booms Nigel. In another corner, a group of children are warming down, doing planks and star jumps with military precision, lead by coach Timmy. I turn back around to say goodbye to CK and offer a handshake, but am countered with his outstretched arms. “Come on” he says as he leans in for a hug, “we’re all friends here!”
Find out more on the website www.peckhambmx.co.uk