First and foremost riders should enjoy racing. Anything like support from a team is then a bonus rather than the focus.
Teams bring so many positives to our sport and can be a brilliant aspirational aspect. Companies that get involved do so for the love of the sport and the desire to do something positive.
Perhaps the biggest thing about teams is that they often provide benefits to their riders, whether that's free kit or free bikes, there's a range offered by the teams in the sport. This can make getting sponsored the focus of a lot of riders; support from a team can be not only a help in making racing affordable, but in improving on track and showcasing talent.
BUT - some riders and parents of younger riders think being on a team is all that matters. It isn't. Some riders aren't ready for the added pressures of being on a team and some parents put Team Managers off by thinking it's about what you get, not how you act.
The important thing about teams as far as we're concerned is that they're selective, rather than inclusive like clubs. A new rider can join a club and represent them straight away, but teams will choose riders who have established themselves as proven talent, or with the potential to be a top rider. There are development teams of course, ones that hope to act as a springboard for riders to gain experience and there are teams run to be a benefit to riders rather than the focus being on the business.
That's one significant point then. Another is that because they represent a company that's invested in the team, there's more pressure to do a good job representing them!
Sponsorship. The "S" word. A tricky subject! Clubs are a rider's entry into the sport of BMX racing and riders will still be members of and represent their clubs when riding for teams. The Riders on the British Cycling Olympic Programme still gain points for their clubs!
So where do teams fit in? Most significantly, like in other cycling disciplines, a team is named after the principal sponsor. This itself gives them exposure but custom printed team kits allow for great action shots to be taken all to the company's benefit. A football team will have their sponsor's logo emblazoned on their kit but will always be Somewhere FC for example. A cycling team may be ACME Flooring one year, and Bloggs Bathrooms the next, even if nothing else changes.
There are teams of all sizes in the UK, ranging from large to small. Some offer a jersey, a sense of belonging and a chance to represent a variety of businesses. Others are backed by major bike distributors who know the value of a factory team on the race circuit.
Whatever the size, teams are as full of passionate people as their club counterparts and riders on a team still belong to a club. Where they differ is that clubs are inclusive, anyone can ride for one whereas teams are selective and often places are coveted.