Phafane breathes fire

Phafane breathes fire

……‘We are tired of ministry’s empty promises’…….

MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) is owed M11 million by the Ministry of Sports, LEFA president Advocate Salemane Phafane has claimed.
Phafane made the revelation yesterday as he announced LEFA has withdrawn two junior football teams from this year’s African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games set for December in Maseru.

The games will be hosted in Lesotho for the first time and were seen as an opportunity for the country’s various sports codes to shine on home soil.
However, Phafane said the association had decided to remove the Under-17 boys and Under-20 girls’ teams from the competition due to a lack of funding for preparations.

In a press briefing at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena, Phafane then dropped another bombshell saying the sports ministry’s “empty promises” had led to a M11 million hole in LEFA’s books. Phafane said LEFA is now fed up with the sports ministry and will not enter its teams into the regional youth showpiece in December.
“We have had empty promises from the ministry for years that have put our finances as the association in danger,” Phafane said.
“Some of our projects stopped because the ministry made empty promises as a result of which the ministry owes us M11 million as we speak now,” he added.
Phafane said last month the sports ministry again asked LEFA for funds in order to pay fares for Lesotho’s away 2020 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Benin on March 25.

“It’s clear they (sports ministry) will never pay (the M11 million owed) because it’s been years,” Phafane said.
“Instead of paying, as late as two weeks ago they wrote to us asking us to lend them money to take Likuena to Benin (because) they don’t have money. We said we are tired, they must budget.”

Phafane said LEFA gave the sports ministry a budget to prepare their teams for the AUSC Region 5 Youth Games at the beginning of last year but heard nothing.
He said even when LEFA enquired for a second time halfway through 2019 there was still nothing.
The Region 5 games are organised by the government and it is the government’s responsibility to prepare Team Lesotho which will represent the country.
With less than 10 months to go to the regional youth showpiece, the football teams are still not prepared and Phafane said LEFA wants to avoid what happened in 2018 when the association sent an unprepared team to the Botswana edition of the Region 5 games and performed poorly.

He said this time around LEFA has decided to withdraw.
Phafane said LEFA learned a lesson from 2018 when the association wanted to withdraw from the Botswana games but was persuaded to continue and enter.
“In 2018 these games were held in Botswana, I suspect Lesotho knew as early as then if not before that in 2020 these games will be hosted here,” Phafane said.
“Rewind to 2018, the games were around the corner (and) were going to Botswana in about a month or two and we wrote to LSRC to tell them we were withdrawing our teams and (the) reason was there was not enough preparation on their side as the LSRC or ministry to do their part,” he said.

“(The ministry of sports) didn’t play their role to a point where for our teams the best that the ministry had done was to camp that team for a week in October; that’s all they could do and we said we cannot continue this way,” he said.
Phafane added: “There was a plea from the LSRC as the mouthpiece of the ministry saying they have seen the mistake and it will not happen again, (the LSRC said) we should go to Botswana and play. To preserve the name of the (sports) ministry we sent two teams that were totally unprepared. The ladies team was worse. Our teams performed badly in Botswana.”

Phafane lashed out at the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the AUSC Region 5 Youth Games saying he does not know what they are doing and if they know anything about sports.
“Speaking for myself as football president, I don’t know what those people are all about; whether they know anything about sports, I don’t know. The only thing I know is I don’t see them as sports people,” Phafane said.

“For these (past) two years these people have been sitting in the office getting salaries. The ministry has been there with officials who are getting paid. But, because of the teams who call themselves ‘Ministry of Sports’ and the teams who are called LOC, we have nothing even now as we speak,” he added.
“Today it is March, if others have been given something we don’t know, but for us football we have nothing,” Phafane said.

LEFA says it wrote to the sports ministry in January alerting them that time is no longer on their side with preparations for the Region 5 games.
LEFA gave the ministry a deadline of February 28 to have funds available for preparations, but still they have no answer from the ministry and there is still no money.
Phafane said LEFA has officially written to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) to inform them that its junior football teams will not take part in December’s games.

“February 28 arrived and passed, still nothing (from the sports ministry) except empty promises which we are tired of,” the LEFA president said.
“We have had enough of them, we are not prepared to be fed anymore empty promises, because of this (issue) and others we have formally written to LSRC that football will not take part in the AUSC Region 5 Games.” Phafane declared.
“Maybe other sporting codes are getting funds to prepare or maybe they will pick teams with a month left. Let them do so, but we are not prepared to do that as football.”

Tlalane Phahla

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