Major boost for Lesotho taekwondo

Major boost for Lesotho taekwondo

Luciah Phahla

MASERU

Lesotho taekwondo received a major boost on Monday with a kit donation worth an estimated M250 000 from the South Korean government and the KUKKIWON (World Taekwondo Headquarters), South Korea’s governing organisation for taekwondo.

The equipment was received by the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Mathibeli Mokhothu at a ceremony at Setsoto Stadium.

It is hoped the equipment will enhance the performance of local fighters during training and in their preparations for international tournaments in a quest to return taekwondo to its hey-days.

Taekwondo competed admirably in the 1990’s and early 2000s and became Lesotho’s most successful sport.

The sport’s string of successes included Likeleli Thamae winning gold at the All Africa Games in 1996 and 1999 while Lineo Mochesane was African fin-weight champion in 2003.

However, the last time taekwondo qualified for the Olympic Games was in 2004.

The equipment given to the Lesotho Taekwondo Association (LTA) includes Adidas training shoes, head gear and other fighting equipment which the association estimated at around M250 000.

The donation comes on the heels of Lesotho taekwondo’s failure to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after unsuccessful African Taekwondo Union qualifiers in Morocoo last month.

South Korea has been a long-time partner to Lesotho in taekwondo and in 2014, South Korean coach, Du Khwi Lee, arrived in the country to oversee Lesotho taekwondo.

Addressing the ceremony, Mokhothu applauded the South Korean government for always lending a helping hand.

“This equipment is going to help the fighters prepare well for international tournaments and to also strengthen the relationships between South Korea and Lesotho,” he said.

Mokhothu added he was ready to invest in taekwondo at grassroots level.

“I am requesting the (taekwondo) association to submit its development programme for primary and high schools. We have to make sure kids play taekwondo at an early stage because that’s the core development of the sport in the country,” he said.

The minister also hailed LTA president Moshoeshoe Molapo for his commitment and efforts to improve the level of taekwondo in the country.

The LTA recently received equipment from Ireland which came through contacts Molapo made during trips abroad.

“Taekwondo is not 100 percent dependant on the ministry. The president (Molapo) goes all out to seek help from his counterparts unlike other associations. I hope they will follow in his footsteps,” Mokhothu said.

Mokhothu said he wishes to see taekwondo return to its past glories. He said the sport produces disciplined players and “makes people who are smart and can make decisions quickly”.

However, Mokhothu said the government alone cannot meet the needs of all the sporting codes in the country which is why he sought help from abroad last year.

Mokhothu visited the embassies of Kuwait, Japan, Georgia, Ukraine, Australia, Canada, Kenya, Brazil and Argentina last November and also spoke with Algeria.

He said he will embark on trips after April 1 to sign memorandums of understanding (MOU) with countries that have pledged their help.

“Because the government cannot satisfy all the sporting codes we started going out to seek help from different countries like Brazil, Argentina, Kuwait and others. Some have already promised to help Lesotho. We started last year and after the 1st April we will be having many trips to the embassies again to sign the MOUs with them,” Mokhothu said.

Last month, the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation was allocated M82 million in the government’s budget for this year.

Mokhothu said the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) will be given M7 million to split amongst its 24 affiliated sporting associations, including taekwondo.

“As the ministry we are planning to build a Leribe Sport Complex which will cost us M720 million and we were only given M82 million (in the government budget),” Mokhothu said.

“We cannot build that stadium on our own, that’s why we need to go out to our counterparts and ask for help from them.”

 

 

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