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A nightmare for trafficked footballer



MASERU – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This was certainly the case for Mohau Majara, a 25-year-old amateur football player from Ha-Seoli, who ended up in a whirlwind nightmare last October because of a lie he could not resist.

Majara has never played football professionally but thought he had a jackpot when his Nigerian neighbour, Sikuru Rasheed, promised to find him a team in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A quick call to the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) to verify Rasheed’s lies could have saved him.

Even though Majara is not associated with any club that is a member of LEFA, the association would have told him what documents are needed to authenticate a move abroad.

As someone who has not even played in the A-Division and was at an age where it is almost impossible to find a team in the Vodacom Premier League, Majara probably should have seen the red flags.

However, he is a factory worker in Masowe who survives on a pittance. He thought his football talent had finally paid off even if he had stopped playing to focus on finding a job in order to make a living.

Majara went to Dubai and for five months was a puppet for Nigerians who not only used him to open bank accounts and take out installment contracts, but also got him married to a woman he had never met before.

It is a story that would give Hollywood writers a run for their money. The first time the story was told it felt like a tale laced with a bit of fiction. Majara’s story gave mixed emotions of anger, pity and the sheer wonder of how one can be so stupid.

However, when Majara told his story, it became clear it was not about stupidity – it exposed the fact that poverty and desperation do not have bounds. People are willing to do whatever it takes to make it to a better life, even if it means risking their lives.

LEFA does not have a registered player agency and anyone claiming to be a player agent in Lesotho is a fraud. The association’s secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, said LEFA is still waiting for guidance from FIFA on how to launch a player agency in the country.

Mohapi was not aware of Majara’s case when he was contacted for comment. In any case, he said LEFA is not involved in talks between players and potential suitors. He said LEFA would only get involved when a deal is properly struck and is time to issue an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to allow the player to play in a foreign country.

“We do not have player representatives in Lesotho,” Mohapi said.

“We are still awaiting FIFA guidance to properly roll it out and to be sure we have it with the right people, because some of these people are not in good standing with the association, they just want to do things in an unregulated way. We are not going to allow it,” he insisted.

Mohapi said in a proper transaction LEFA would know the team and would be able to corroborate any transfer by going into FIFA’s system to check if it is true.

Mohapi said there should be a formal invitation from a foreign club if you are going on trials, and, crucially, you should know who is taking you there.

“You throw caution to the wind, if someone comes here and says an American club wants to sign someone (without a club) you need to pick it out that it’s a lie,” Mohapi said.

“Where did they see you play?” he continued.

“It cannot be, you would probably have to be in the A-Division or the Premier League for them to see you.”

Mohapi added: “With clubs like that you surely should have been in the national team for them to see you. You cannot say that you are playing in the dust and all of a sudden you are so skilled that you are wanted by (an American club) or Kaizer Chiefs.”

While LEFA’s hands are tied in Majara’s case because it involves a non-member of the association, Mohapi said what LEFA can do is to be friends with the court in order to ensure the trafficker gets a heavy sentence.
The case continues at the Maseru Magistrate Court today.

Tlalane Phahla

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Rabale eyes Champions League glory



Lesotho women’s team captain Boitumelo Rabale has her eyes on winning her second CAF Women’s Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns as the tournament gets underway this weekend.
The third edition of the prestigious women’s club football is scheduled for Ivory Coast from November 5-19, where eight clubs will battle it out to be crowned Queens of the continent.

“Queen”, as the Lesotho star is commonly known, was part of the Sundowns squad that was crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the tournament held in Egypt two years ago, becoming the first player from the Mountain Kingdom to taste Champions League success.
She has become one of the key players in Jerry Tshabalala’s squad having walked away with the Hollywoodbets Player of the Season in the previous campaign and currently leads the goal-scoring charts with 21 goals.

“It was exciting to win the CAF Women’s Champions League with Sundowns two years ago and in the process becoming the first player from Lesotho to do so,” Rabale said.

“I felt very lucky and honoured to make history. It gave me confidence to continue working hard and strive for more success with the club”
Sundowns head to the tournament as regional champions after clinching the COSAFA qualifiers to qualify for the continental showpiece, where they will kickstart their campaign against Tanzania’s JKT Queens on Sunday.

Rabale admitted that memories of losing the last final to AS FAR still haunts them, but they head to Ivory Coast a better team than in the last tournament.

“We learnt the hard way when we lost in the final to AS FAR and we come back a better team having rectified our mistakes.

“It’s our dream to conquer the continent again and I have no doubt that we have what it takes to get our second star in Ivory Coast.

“It will be very good to add the second CAF Champions League medal to my trophy cabinet,” she said.

The 27-year-old has been prolific for Sundowns this campaign having scored nine goals in her last five matches to take her tally for this campaign to 21 goals.
Sundowns are in Group A alongside tournament hosts, Athletico Abidjan, Sporting Casablanca of Morocco, as well as Tanzania’s JKT Queen.

Since joining Sundowns in 2021, Rabale has won the Hollywoodbets Super League twice, the COSAFA Zonal qualifiers twice as well as the CAF Women’s Champions League and is the reigning Hollywoodbets Player of the season.

Tlalane Phahla

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Red Skins fail to raise funds for championship



Lesotho volleyball giants Red Skins have failed to raise funds for the 2023 Zone 6 Senior Indoor Volleyball Club Championship they are set to host in December.

Red Skins will host the competition together with four other local volleyball clubs – Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lesotho Mounted Police Station (LMPS) and Rivers – and the tournament is expected to start on December 7 and end 10 days later.

Without any funds or sponsors coming in, Red Skins will have to foot the bill from their pockets for the tournament which will see teams from 10 countries converge on Maseru.

Among the participating nations, Botswana is expected to bring the biggest contingent with 12 teams, with Zambia following closely behind with nine teams while Zimbabwe is set to be represented by six teams.

Two weeks ago, Red Skins participated in the Elite Cup in Gauteng, South Africa, which was hosted by Aqua Darshan Volleyball.
Red Skins hoped to win the tournament and return home with a hefty jackpot but they only collected M5 000 which was won by the men’s team.

A gala dinner that Red Skins hosted last weekend also failed to generate income due to low attendance and speaking to thepost on Tuesday, the club’s vice-captain, Moleboheng Mofolo, said they will have to push on with what they have to host the tournament.
Mofolo said they no longer have time to come up with other means to raise funds.

“Tournaments will require us to find sponsorships and we do not have time now, we have to focus and train well,” Mofolo said.

“Our coach already told us to camp from this week but rain is our biggest challenge because we cannot continue with the training,” she added.

Mofolo said Red Skins are fortunate that participating teams are going to take care of their accommodation and catering. She said if Red Skins had to provide those services, they would not have been able to manage.

She pleaded with individuals, organisations and companies to help the team, whether it is by offering accommodation, food, or whatever little they may have.

Tlalane Phahla

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Giants avoid each other in Top 4 clash



Women Super League (WSL) giants Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies and Kick4Life Ladies have avoided each other in the WSL Top 4 knockout competition.
The two-day showpiece takes centre stage this weekend at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and it will see last season’s top four finishers in the league – LDF, Kick4Life, Lijabatho and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Ladies – go head-to-head for bragging rights.

The draw for the competition took place last Friday and the semi-finals will see LDF go up against Lijabatho while Kick4Life will take on LMPS Ladies.
Both semi-finals will be played on Saturday with the tournament culminating the following day.

Sunday’s proceedings will kick-off with a third-place playoff game to determine who walks away with the bronze medals before the final later in the day.
All four games over the two days will be streamed on the FIFA+ website and the WSL Top 4 will usher in a new sponsor this year.

In the past, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) fully bankrolled the competition, however, Computer Business Solutions (CBS) has come on board with a sponsorship for the first time.

The competition’s prize monies have not been revealed because they are still being finalised, but, speaking at last Friday’s draw, LEFA’s associations secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, said the relationship with CBS is one that sport should engage in.
Mohapi added his hopes that the relationship will be a long-term one.

“While others are busy at their thing, we should really grow ours so that when their distraction finally ends, they find us as united as we can be as the football community,” Mohapi said.
“(We should be) united by the efforts and inputs that emanate from the business community, especially when it is a truly Lesotho business entity because other (foreign entities) are here to take money,” he said.

Addressing CBS as the tournament’s sponsor, Mohapi said: “We are thankful as LEFA for your initiative; (we) hope you will be in this marriage quite long. We know we are just testing the waters but we have a lot that can entice you to stay longer, not only my command but the instruments that we have.”

Mohapi said LEFA’s dream is that in two years’ time all league matches will be streaming on the FIFA+ platform which was launched last April by football’s world governing body to increase exposure of men and women’s football around the globe.

Currently, only three grounds in the country have the structures for broadcasting; Bambatha as well as the grounds at LDF and Lesotho Correctional Service grounds, and all are in Maseru.
LEFA plans to add more grounds to the list with the DIFA facilities in Maputsoe and Mohale’s Hoek set to be the first to follow suit.

“All our women’s competitions, cup competitions and (Vodacom) Premier League matches that will be played in those stadia that have our infrastructure – we will be able to stream those games internationally,” Mohapi said.

“We have extended our footprint,” he added.

“We are now doing LDF – we have already put up the structure – then we are moving to Maputsoe and, hopefully, Mohale’s Hoek. It is our desire that in two years’ time we will hopefully cover all the matches and put them on the FIFA+ streaming platform.”

WSL Top 4 fixtures:
Saturday (Bambatha)
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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