Kick4Life chases unbeaten run
MASERU – Kick4Life women’s team are aiming to go unbeaten this upcoming Women’s Super League season and leading their ambitious desires is a seasoned woman coach, Elizabeth Yelimala.
Since 2019, Kick4Life Ladies have only lost one league game which makes their quest probable.
The Women’s Super League regular season is expected to start soon but, before that, the club will be in action this weekend in the WSL Top 4 where they will face arch-rivals Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies in the semi-finals.
It will be the first test of Kick4Life’s credentials and to get them through, Kic4Life will once again be looking to the guidance and tactics of Yelimala who is one of the most respected coaches in the country, not only because she is good at her job, but because she keeps breaking boundaries in the male-dominated field.
Yelimala is the only woman and one of the few coaches at all in the country who holds the CAF A-Licence coaching certification.
She completed the prestigious course in 2016 and while she is proud of her achievement, she says local football needs more women coaches. Yelimala arrived in Lesotho in 2006 from Ghana.
She joined Majantja and has been involved in Lesotho’s football since then.
After spending years with the Mohale’s Hoek club, she left to join Mphatlalatsane and from there she joined Kick4Life as the senior men’s assistant coach and the Old Europa club has been her home for the last eight years.
Yelimala worked in men’s football until 2019 when she shifted to Kick4Life’s women’s team.
“I might have (CAF) A Licence which is good, but we really need women in coaching,” Yelimala says.
“I made a presentation in South Africa where they gave me a topic that asked who should coach female clubs: should it be women or men?” she continues.
“As I was researching, I realised that we really need women in football but many women are scared to come (looking) for work. They feel they will not perform; they feel there is gender bias, there is sexism, they (are called) different names and they are really scared. I went through all the courses with the Lesotho Football (Association) while I was still instructing, and facilitating and I have always been the only lady amongst men,” Yelimala says.
The fears women have when it comes to football are valid, there is gender bias and sexism in football. It does not just happen in coaching but it is across the board and in the media as well. Women are treated differently to their male counterparts.
Being surrounded by men can put women under pressure and women may not be able to cope.
“In that presentation, one of my recommendations was we need to start somewhere,” Yelimala says.
“It will be good if we start by putting women in the club’s technical teams which I believe Lesotho can also do. I talked to coach Thots (Lehlohonolo Thotanyana) last time, I said ‘call me, let’s sit down and discuss when you are ready’ because now we need to put women in technical positions,” she adds.
If there is a bench of five technical members, one or two should be women who will be an assistant to the male coach, Yelimala suggests.
In that way the women coaches will get to learn from the head coach and also be given the opportunity to at least take up the warm up.
Yelimala believes this will build up their confidence.
She says it would also help to have courses specifically for women, even if it is just ten of them in the course so that they can express themselves.
Asked how she has kept it going all these years being surrounded by men, Yelimala says she has always been a tomboy from childhood and was teased about it to a point where she got used to it.
She has become a role model to upcoming women coaches and that motivates her as well.
“What also kept me going was being with the male teams, I was with the teams and they were like my younger brothers, we talked like siblings and they never looked at me as a woman and we don’t listen to her,” Yelimala says.
“When I entered the field with men they listen and they do accordingly so it gave me the hope that if these guys can listen and do what I want them to do then it is good for me to continue to learn to be a better coach for the future,” she continues.
Besides Yelimala, there is Puseletso Mokhosi who holds the CAF B License but she is not active anymore.
There are about three more women who hold the C Licences and a few with D Licences. She is set to remain the only one with the A Licence at least for the next two years as there are no B courses on the horizon yet.
“We held the D License in December for the Region 5 Games, we had about ten ladies that attended, so if we had C now it would be easy to push one or two. The current Under-17 coach we recommended should go into coaching and she is doing well, the Under-20 kit manager we are pushing her into coaching,” she says.
Previewing the weekend’s game against Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies, Yelimala says this will be the first time they step on to the field since they started training five weeks ago.
They will also be without some of their players who came back with injuries from the national team.
Those challenges notwithstanding, Yelimala says they always make the players aware that every game is important.
“Physically the whole team I will say we are not up to where we want to be because we had a number of players with the national team that went to Port Elizabeth and when they came back, we gave them days off,” she says.
“They have been training from March to April till the competition ended so it is advisable to give them that break in order not to allow fatigue to set in when we really need them. They joined us about two weeks ago for training. Frankly speaking we are not where we want to be,” Yelimala continues.
While many would have liked to see Kick4Life and LDF in the final, Yelimala says she didn’t have a preference on who to draw, in fact, she says the team they have always struggled against is FC Stoko.
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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