Notsi backs shake-up

Notsi backs shake-up

MASERU – Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) technical director Leslie Notši has high hopes the country’s football fortunes will improve as a result of last week’s overhaul of Lesotho’s national teams’ set-up.
Last Wednesday, LEFA introduced sweeping changes to the national teams structure which will see Likuena coach Thabo Senong oversee all national teams from the Under-17 team to the senior side.
Senong will be assisted by a committee of three coaches – Motolo Makepe, Bafokeng Mohapi and head assistant Mpitsa Marai – and together they will run all of Lesotho’s men’s teams.

When implementing the change LEFA said it was done to ensure a smooth transition for players through the national team pathway.
Notši called it a step forward for the association and said the decision shows LEFA is taking steps in line with other countries that are successfully using the same model.
The roots of the change germinated after a pair of disastrous showings by Lesotho’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams at regional COSAFA competitions last year.

Despite high hopes, both sides were knocked out of their respective competitions at the first hurdle with one draw between them.
The disasters led to the firings of Halemakale Mahlaha as Under-17 coach and Bob Mafoso as Under-20 boss.
The change is a move Notši said will benefit the country.

Hired last June as LEFA technical director, Notši has experienced and witnessed the good and bad of Lesotho’s youth pathway.
In 2011, Notši memorably led Lesotho to the CAF Under-20 Championship. However, even though that group has produced Likuena players such as Basia Makepe, Tšoanelo Koetle and Litšepe Marabe, it hasn’t gone on to reach the heights many envisaged.

Notši, who coached Likuena from 2011 to 2014, said LEFA looked at how it was doing things and decided it is time for change.
“I would say we are moving forward,” he told thepost.
“This decision that has been made is a step forward because when you’re in management there are times you have to make such decisions. It is a decision that is going to help us because we looked at ourselves and how we got here, and then said, let’s have resident coaches who will scout players because there is a lot of talent and we have not given ourselves time to scout these boys and girls. After four years we will see results,” Notši added.

Of course, there are no guarantees the new model will bring success but Notši said LEFA is happy to try something new and see how it works.
“There is no timeframe, ever since we have been in football there was a certain way the association was working with in terms of coaches, we were not consistent,” Notši said.
“Our teams would qualify then go quiet for a long time then come back again. I think the decision that has been made is one that was advised by previous shortcomings we saw,” he added.

“It’s not a decision which we just made, we looked at it and other footballing countries where there has been success with the same way of doing things,” Notši said.
“It doesn’t mean by next year we would have won a cup or something, but we are saying, let’s grow and get closer to other countries. We will do it and we will look at it and maybe after four years (we will see results) because it is a journey not quick fixes. It needs everyone to buy into it and understand it so that we can see how we all grow,” he said.

Despite Lesotho’s disappointing COSAFA youth displays last year Notši insisted he remains confident in the country’s development system.
He said LEFA’s main focus is on developing young players in a more holistic way than before.
One of the main positives Notši pointed to is the national Under-15 League that started last year and continues across the country.

Notši said the programme is about unearthing talent and nurturing players until they reach a stage where they can progress to youth teams and elite clubs in the top-flight.
“If you look at some of the terms and conditions that FIFA gave us, we are meeting those, but as people when it comes to our national teams, regardless whether it is the senior or junior (teams), everybody wants results and there is nothing wrong with it, but as the association the most important thing is developing players especially for when they go elite (because) that’s where we talk a lot about results,” Notši said.
Notši said it is more important to develop the right culture at youth level than obsess over winning.

“Let’s talk about the current Under-15 league that is on-going, we are not looking at the results a lot, we are looking at developing the talent, to develop boys and girls,” Notši said.
“As of winning we will talk about it at a later stage because if we are looking to win now, that’s how cheating happens; there will be no discipline and respect because everyone wants to win,” he said.
“We want to instil a culture into the boys and the girls and let them understand how football is played. When they get to a certain age category that’s where we can now say we have to start talking about winning.”

Tlalane Phahla

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