Mpinane Moshoeshoe

Mpinane Moshoeshoe

MASERU – The Lesotho government has set aside M31 million for the successful hosting of the 2020 African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games next December.
It will be the first time Lesotho hosts the showpiece and, apart from the novelty, the Region 5 Games are also seen as an important dress rehearsal for the 2022 African Youth Games to be staged in Maseru.
The government’s cash injection was revealed by Minister of Sports Dr Mahali Phamotse on Tuesday at a welcoming ceremony for Lesotho’s African Games squad.

The continental championships ran for two weeks in Rabat, Morocco, until last Saturday and Team Lesotho was welcomed back home at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
Phamotse said all that needs to happen for the M31 million kitty to be accessed is for Lesotho’s sports mother bodies, the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC), to submit their plans to the ministry.
“Let’s not embarrass ourselves, we need the medals; in this country we have the terrain, we have money, we have facilities, we have time – I don’t know what you are going to complain about,” Phamotse said as she addressed athletes and officials in attendance.

“We must have teams that are going to help us win, (and) the government has already agreed that for the next games they will give us M31 million.”
“What needs to happen is (for us) to start working now and we will get the money if our plans are correct. I am waiting for those plans (from) LSRC and LNOC. I don’t have them this month and I am asking myself when I am going to get them. I want plans,” the minister said.
Phamotse specifically addressed Team Lesotho’s performance at the African Games which saw Lesotho return with just one medal, a silver by taekwondo specialist Michelle Tau.

Phamotse, who travelled to Morocco to watch the team, congratulated Tau but stressed the need for Lesotho to improve its displays on the international stage.
“I want to congratulate the winner of the silver medal, Michelle Tau; we did not have that last year, we congratulate her, and we congratulate Basotho for getting the medal,” the minister said.
“I also want to congratulate the athletes who reached different categories closer to getting a victory. Thank you, you worked hard. I also want to congratulate even those that were not successful because they worked hard and showed commitment.

“Sport is a right to every child and it is also an opportunity because even though it is a right, there are some that do not get the opportunity like you. You have been given a chance that every Mosotho child wants, therefore do not be arrogant.”
“We worked hard but not enough for Basotho because they expect us to be number one. Until we get to that (level) Basotho will never accept, you should know this. There is no country that wants to be number two or three, this is important, even if you may feel you worked hard,” she said.

“I was there and there are a lot of things that I saw. I am happy you entered the competitions but I am not happy that we lost. However, this year we were better than in previous years. We are on a journey to reach our goal which is to be among the top five on the continent (in athletics) that means we have to work hard and accept that we have not reached our targets and the targets of the nation we are representing. I am speaking like this because I was with you.”

Phamotse said there is progress when it comes to the facilities to be used for the Region 5 Youth Games.
The National University of Lesotho (NUL) Games Village, for example, is close to being finished while the Rapokolana facility is complete.
The minister said it is now up to Lesotho’s sports associations to scour the country to identify young talent.
“(To) LSRC and LNOC, in 2020 when we host I expect to have 800 athletes not less than that and it should be athletes under-20 (years old),” Phamotse said.

“The games are going to help us find hidden talent because in sports we phase each other out in terms of ages and if we are sitting down and not looking for talent, what we are going to do? We have work hard and be committed because I am going to work with you LSRC and LNOC day and night.”

Tlalane Phahla


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