‘Coaches must broaden knowledge’
Maseru– Education is one of the keys in coaching because it ensures coaches are able to develop players to their full potential.
It also helps coaches keep up with ever-changing coaching trends and stay relevant in the demanding world of football.
The first step in coaching education, of course, is completing courses and acquiring relevant certificates.
However, there are still many Basotho coaches who are coaching and developing players without relevant qualifications.
This week, thepost caught up with the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) technical director Lehlohonolo Thotanyana who stressed the importance of coaching education in the development of the country’s football.
He said attending coaching workshops is crucial in helping coaches sharpen and broaden their knowledge. Thotanyana also touched on the challenges local players face when it comes to trying their luck outside the country.
In April, LEFA awarded CAF A-Licences to 26 coaches, most of them local. How important are licences in coaching?
Let’s make an example with a teacher who did not go to college but his students are still passing. You can ask, what is the difference and importance of going to college? It is the same in coaching. Sometimes you may think you are coaching correctly with no licence without realising you are not doing it right and it catches up over time.
Many times when people who coached without licences come to the coaching courses they realise that they have been doing things the wrong way, which is why it is important for a person to come to coaching workshops because it can open your eyes to many things.
There is an English saying that ‘practice makes perfect’ but now they say it doesn’t make perfect but it makes permanent. The bad habits you been practicing become permanent. Sometimes we do things thinking we are doing them the right way yet we are wrong.
Let me give you an example. Sometimes you hear people say our senior players lack basics. Where do they get those basics? Those are things they should get while they are still young. But unqualified coaches don’t give those correct basics because they are thinking they are coaching the right way, yet they are not.
Premier league players go into coaching after their playing days are over. Just because somebody is a good player, does that make them good coach? What makes a good coach?
Not necessarily. You may be a good player but be a bad coach. On the other hand you may find someone did not play football at all but is a good coach. Coaching is something different from playing. It is not an extension of playing football or being a football player. Coaching is a different ballgame altogether.
Then what makes one a good coach?
It’s just the drive a person has, their determination perhaps coupled with talent. Coaching involves a lot of qualities. What makes a good coach is the personality you have because some of the qualities we draw from in coaching are about you. The kind of person you are makes a huge difference.
It seems our clubs don’t have patience these days. In the 2015/16 season Bantu had three different coaches, Likhopo as well parted ways with Shalane Lehohla in the same season. Linare have also made several coaching changes over the past year and so have Sundawana. There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to wait amongst clubs. Why is that?
Unfortunately, that is the life in football: club administrators don’t want to hear about a coach being given a chance to build – they want results. And it happens around the world; that is why you find coaches being changed all the time and being recycled continuously.
From what you know about Lesotho football – from youth level to the premier league to the national team – what’s holding Lesotho back? Why haven’t we qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) despite the talent we have?
I’m not too sure what I can say is the cause, because you may find it is a combination of many factors. For example, we have had two successful Under-20 teams in recent years. Let me talk about one, we had an Under-20 team (that qualified for the 2005 Under-20 African Championships) that progressed to Under-23 and some players moved on to the senior team.
That team got a lot of exposure while they were in their development stage. They played together at Under-12, Under-15 and Under-17 international tournaments, all the way until Under-20. They played and grew together.
They were exposed so much to the international stage that it was no longer a big deal for them. They performed well with no problems. We don’t expose our players to the international stage while they are still young. You may find that when the local league is not strong, it will not give you a strong national team.
We have talented players who can do miracles with the ball but can’t apply proper techniques to help their clubs win matches or solve problems in the game. How important is technique? I think it is attitude; they don’t have that passion to play football with determination. I think technique may come later from coaching but, naturally, sometimes you may find the technical levels of certain players do not come as a result of coaching but from natural talent.
So, you may find the players are talented technically because when you say a person is talented that means their technical levels are good, not levels brought by coaching, but the talent he was born with.
What plans and strategies do you have in place to improve the level of coaching in Lesotho, especially at grassroots level?
We are still trying to address this. It has been done before, even before I come into this office. There are levels. For instance, there is Level 1 which is a domestic curriculum. In terms of coaching we are helped by CAF (Confederation of African Football) and FIFA (Federation of International Football Association). They come with certain systems; CAF has an A Licence, B Licence and C Licence, then FIFA will come with some supplementary courses such as for goalkeeping or youth. For youth, they help educate grassroots coaches. But, all the things that these two federations may come with mean little if as a country you don’t have anything, and we are trying to get there. We are trying to design our own curriculum in terms of a development coaching pathway.
Is it a concern that for national teams it always appears to be the same people who coach? Motlalepula Majoro, Halemakale Mahlaha, Moses Maliehe, Seephephe Matete. Why are we not producing new and young coaches?
Moses is young; he was coached by Ntate Matete. He works with (with Lesotho assistant coach) Mpitsa Marai who is younger than him in terms of age, so they are young. But the truth is we do need coaches that need to be deployed. In short, we don’t have people who are in the same age (group) with ntate Matete who are still in coaching circles, at least at national level.
Is there a vision and strategic plan that includes goals and targets that you have decided with national coach Moses Maliehe?
The support is here for anything he wants. When (Maliehe) was hired there was mandate given to him and he also gave us his vision. It’s a matter of how they connect in that whole process, but there is support. The vision and the strategic plan are there for the association. The coach’s mandate may not necessarily be the strategic plan but it may actually fall within the strategic plan.
What is your office doing to try to get more Lesotho players playing in leagues abroad such as South Africa?
That is the challenge we have – we are yet to find a pathway to ship our talent. You will realise at the moment it is individuals who may help by taking a certain player (for trials) and helping him. We have a player (Tšepang Makapa of Liphakoe) who passed trials at (South African premier league side) Golden Arrows. After a long time he is one of the successful ones.
One of the things that may work in the players’ favour is when you have a performing national team; it becomes the avenue or the vehicle that becomes a market on its own.
Dicing with death
MASERU – spinning is a motorsport that originates in South Africa.
The pastime started in the 1980s in the country’s townships and was used mainly by gangsters as a way to show-off their stolen cars.
In the subsequent years, the sport has grown in popularity in South Africa’s neighbouring country and it has made its way to Lesotho.
Although spinning competitions are not held regularly in Lesotho, they always come with a huge fanfare and hundreds of supporters normally flock to its venues to watch drivers spinning, drifting and doing stunts.
It is a loud and mostly dangerous sport that has been labelled as the world’s most reckless sport.
It’s not just any car that is used in spinning, there are special cars that favourties for entertaining crowds.
The BMW 3-series famously known as Gusheshe owing to the brusque sound its engine makes are designed for the spin. Spinning enthusiasts say that BMW 3-series cars can be manipulated and their engines maintained easily.
Lately other people have started to opt for the V8 Toyota which they sport with BMW wheels.
In Lesotho, the shows are held at various places, including the Masianokeng filling station in Maseru. In 2021, Seisa Mohapi left the crowd yearning for more thrills, stunts and spins at Makoanyane Barracks and he emerged as a local favourite.
He has since gone on to make a career out of car spinning and because of the lack of competitions in Lesotho, Mohapi has to travel outside very often to compete.
Today, Mohapi, who is one the most famous spinners in Lesotho, is preparing for the Battle of the Nations competition to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 29.
He is not a newbie to the competition. Last year he was the only Mosotho competing against drivers from the host country, Eswatini and Botswana.
One fascinating fact about Mohapi is that he was not into spinning cars until a friend urged him to join the sport because of his fast driving. Mohapi insists, however, that when he is driving on the road he is not as fast as he is on the track.
He may now be a well-recognised spinner, but it was a difficult road. Getting invitations to South African competitions was mission impossible in the beginning because the sport was not recognised in Lesotho.
The best Mohapi managed was competitions in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu, before he eventually started getting invites to big events.
In 2018, he received his first invitation to attend big spinning events in Villiersdorp, Western Cape, and now the rest is history. He has travelled to several countries including Eswatini and Botswana.
Mohapi remembers: “(My friend) gave me an idea that you already have speed, if you can spin, you can do it well. From there I started spinning on the streets until we started taking it seriously, (we are) hosting events and joining spinning groups.”
When Mohapi is not throttling cars on weekends, during the week he has an office job at the Ministry of Social Development. He says his routine is between his job and spinning.
It is a costly passion.
Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports in the world because it requires fully operational engines and such are costly. Mohapi has no sponsor, he bears all the costs when it comes to his car. Luckily for Mohapi, he can repair cars which means the costs of fixing have not weighed as heavily on him as they otherwise would have.
“Even though spinning is a very expensive sport, I am still fully self-sponsored and it does not cost much on my pocket because I know how to repair cars. So, this is different to someone who waits on engineers when their cars crash,” Mohapi says.
“Because these cars are being used heavily, they kill engines a lot. The cheapest engines range from M3 000 to M4 000 so if you are buying them regularly it becomes expensive. The (engine) I am using is about M18 000 to M20 000 – I am hoping spinning will be recognised as a growing sport,” he continues.
In spinning contests, it is the host’s responsibility to provide participants with tyres, while the participants should make sure that their rims are fit for the performance. Many drivers have earned themselves a reputation with drifting, but that is not the case with Mohapi.
He enjoys spinning and doing stunts most and that has become his trademark.
“For the spin to be performed best, it requires skills,” Mohapi says.
“Some can draw the interest of the audience and some just drift and confuse the audience. When the audience cannot capture what you are doing, they keep themselves busy by buying refreshments,” he adds.
There is a difference between spinning and drifting. Spinning which is more popular is when drivers lock their cars into a spin and screech tyres and make clouds of smoke. They then climb out of the car to perform stunts while spinning.
Meanwhile, the internet defines drifting as a driving technique where the driver intentionally over-steers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.
The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. For example, if the car is turning left, the wheels are pointed right or vice versa.
Mohapi says spinning is all about entertainment, no one can be considered a winner, the only way to know if you did well is by the crowd’s reaction to your performance. South Africa is now preparing to host bigger spinning events in which there will be prize money given to participants who impress, and he says he is looking forward to it.
“All I can say is Basotho should support spin because their kids love it,” Mohapi enthuses.
“Their kids must know there is someone in Lesotho who spins and his name is Seisa. At these events there are really a lot of kids, it brings happiness to them.”
Bereng raring to go
MASERU – Likuena star midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng says it’s good for Likuena to go in the match against star-studded Zambia as underdogs despite winning the last encounter between the two countries.
The two southern African countries will face-off in back-to-back matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium on March 23 and 26 respectively.
Motebang Sera was the hero in the last match at the COSAFA Cup beating Kennedy Mweene twice to become Likuena’s all time leading goal-scorer in the regional tournament with six goals.
Bereng, who now plays his football for Eswatini giants, Mbabane Highlanders, makes a return to the Likuena squad since last year’s goalless draw against Ivory Coast, where he was an unused substitute.
“Look, it will be a totally different ball game to the one when we last played at the COSAFA Cup and they also know that it’s not going to be a walk in the park for them,” the midfielder said.
“We just have to approach the game with the same mindset we had against them two years ago in Port Elizabeth, which was self-belief and playing to our strength.”
Bereng, who had a long career playing in South Africa for the likes of Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Black Leopards, admitted that Zambia are favourite on paper going into the two matches, but is adamant they can cause an upset like they did in holding star-studded Ivory Coast to a goalless draw.
“Of course, on paper they are favourites because they have a lot of players playing abroad such as Patson Daka of Leicester City, but like I said, self-belief is very important at this level of football,” Bereng said.
“I think for me it’s very good to be labelled underdogs, it takes the pressure away from us and gives us room to surprise them.
“They are going to be to tough games, but we have been there before and we know what we have to do to improve our position if we are to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.
Likuena will host Eswatini in a training match this Thursday as both countries fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 2023 Afcon matches.
Free show for football fans
MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has opened its gates to Basotho who want to watch the national team Likuena today. Lesotho hosts Eswatini this afternoon at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in their last friendly match before they fly to Zambia.
This training match is part of Likuena’s preparation for the back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Zambia in two weeks’ time.
Three weeks ago, Lesotho coach Veselin Jelusic and his charges travelled to Malawi for a friendly match which ended with a 1-1. At the time the Serbian coach said he wished for more games and today’s match will surely come in handy as it will help him to fine-tune mistakes Likuena made against Malawi.
The first leg match of the AFCON qualifier against Zambia will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on March 23, with the return leg set for Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on March 26th. Lesotho needs to win at least one of the two games to stand any chance of qualifying.
After two AFCON qualifying games, Likuena are bottom of Group H which also includes Comoros and Ivory Coast.
Like Likuena, Eswatini is also preparing to take on Cape Verde in their AFCON qualifying campaigns on March 24 and 28 respectively.
LEFA has invited Basotho to come and watch their team free of charge as this could be their last chance to watch Likuena on their home soil until Setsoto Stadium is upgraded to meet international standards.
Because of the unavailability of the national stadium Likuena have been forced to play their home matches in South Africa.
Likuena lost 2-0 away to Comoros in their opener but played to a spirited 0-0 draw with giants Ivory Coast at ‘home’. Both games were played last June.
Two of Likuena’s foreign based players have already joined up with the team. Lead striker Motebang Sera, who is still recovering from a minor injury that side-lined him for his South African premiership club Royal AM, is with the team. He missed his team’s 5-1 clobbering by Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Tšoarelo Bereng, who is also based across the border, is another one that is now in camp with Likuena.
Richards Bay striker Katleho Makateng is yet to link up with the team, he is expected to be part of the Richards Bay squad that will take on TS Galaxy in the DSTV Premiership in Mpumalanga on Sunday. He will be allowed to join Likuena after and is expected to be a key figure against Zambia.
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