Set up special budget for sports development

Set up special budget for sports development

The role of sports in promoting national cohesion and development should never be downplayed. People can be involved in sports activities for their personal or professional growth. Sport can help foster healthy lifestyles. It can also be a source of employment. On the basis of the above, I would like to believe that now is the time for the government of Lesotho to include sport into the country’s budget for every fiscal year.

If the truth is to be told, the government has been doing very little in terms of sports development.
It is only the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) and its member associations with the help of international sports governing bodies mainly FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that have been financing the development of sport in Lesotho.
I would therefore like to call on Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his cabinet to push for an insertion of a special budget for sports development into the national budget and schools’ curriculum.

Basotho need to see our sports infrastructure developed. They also want to see improved subventions to sports associations. Sports infrastructure and training facilities in Lesotho should be upgraded to meet international standards.
It is unacceptable that Lesotho got its independence in 1966 but to date there is only one decent stadium that, however, can be compared to township grounds in other countries like South Africa.

It’s worth mentioning that I have been in sports for many years hence through my experience I think it is safe to say our Ministry of Sports and Recreation has existed only in name.
I really do not know why such a ministry exists if it cannot spend money in the development of our beloved sports.

In this country, people love their sports. Sport has played a key role in fostering reconciliation, peace building and fighting drugs.
Our sports succeeded to do all these without getting much from the government. Now is the time for the government to invest in our sports.
For instance, the Lesotho Football Association gets a mere annual government subvention of M1 000 000 while the Lesotho Athletics Amateur Association gets a mere M190 000. That amount has not changed since 1994.

Shockingly that subvention went down to M150 000 in the past two years. This, in my opinion, is an embarrassment to our beloved sports.
I want to see continued investment going into the grassroots sports but it has to be done in line with proper reforms in associations’ administration.
It is thus necessary to initiate reforms in all sports administration to improve Lesotho’s performance in international sporting events.
It is generally believed that more financial resources and efforts can be invested in developing sports with the development of the economy.
The main goal should be gaining recognition and giving Lesotho the opportunity to develop a profile and prestige globally.

I believe that sport can be a vehicle for positive social change as it binds families through shared experiences and shared achievements. Through participation, sport helps address anti-social behaviour.
It can also be used in propping up education. I believe sports activities should be compulsory in schools and colleges for the students’ good physical health, mental health and professional careers. Those who are highly involved and dedicated can have a bright future in sports.
Sport can be very beneficial especially for the students as it supports physical as well as mental development. People who are interested and good in sports can live more active and healthy lives.

They can develop better discipline and leadership qualities at the workplace as well.
Moreover, if we have more successful athletes, it will contribute to better brand recognition for Lesotho as a country.
We will not need extra effort to motivate the youths as they would be motivated by seeing Lesotho’s famous sports personalities.

Our youths can have successful careers in sport. It would be very easy to think that sport does not bring any tangible benefits to society.
Yet it has been shown again and again through studies that societies which encourage sport have lower crime rates, lead to empowerment of women, leads to a decrease in poverty, and brings families and communities together.

The issue is quite is simple; when a society actively promotes sports into its culture, encouraging kids to not only play sports as a hobby or as a recreational activity but to actively and intensely compete, it has been proven that it will benefit the society from not only an educational, health, and societal point of view but the country’s economy as well.

Professionalised sports and organised sporting associations can definitely contribute to the country’s development and economic growth.
This can increase productive activities in the economy and enable a particular sport to be self-sufficient.
As it is, almost every sport in Lesotho has to rely on some form of assistance from outside its club or association.

If there is a recognized potential for drawing many spectators, a sporting body can usually be able to acquire government and corporate assistance to mount a particular competition or tournament.  The bitter truth is that less popular sports receive less funding.
May I appeal to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to consider the issues I have raised above to ensure that our sport is taken more seriously. We need more support from the government of Lesotho.

Matela Albert Machela

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