MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) says it plans to repackage local competitions in a bid to jazz up the country’s football.
LEFA says it is going to present cups in a different format because it can help to attract sponsors from the corporate world and the football fraternity.
The new strategy was revealed by the association’s secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi at a Strategic Framework Session held on Friday at the association’s headquarters, Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
The repackaging is one of many goals the country’s football governing body is set to embark on in hopes to improve the local game.
In his presentation, Mohapi said the goal is to transform the current status of the local league and have competitive representatives in CAF club competitions.
Mohapi said LEFA also aims to improve the financial stability of clubs.
“The first objective will be to improve the organisational functionality at management level and have productive responsible football clubs,” Mohapi said.
“(We need to address) our visitors in club management because we have studied and we have seen that, at club level, they are visitors, they use it for other reasons not to make football a viable industry on its own,” he said.
“Football management should be in (a) cordial environment with the mother body (LEFA), the relationship can be much better and, if it is, we will be able to leave each other’s spaces and all be successful. If the national team needs help, it will be helped, and our teams will understand the bigger picture because at the current rate we are having about 90 percent coming from the league,” he continued.
The association is set to clamp down on the number of foreigners that are eligible to start a match in the Vodacom Premier League in order to increase more slots for Basotho. Currently, each top-flight team is allowed to register five foreign players.
Over 50 foreigners play each weekend and occupy key positions that Likuena could benefit from if Basotho were playing instead, LEFA argues.
Mohapi said while the federation does not want to discriminate against foreign players, the influx of foreign players becomes a problem for the national team, Likuena.
“The problem is that the most key positions in the league that can represent Likuena are played by foreigners. Go to big teams – Bantu, Linare, Matlama – if we say: ‘let’s try to replace (Lesotho captain) Basia (Makepe) as a centreback’, whom can we replace him with, because the centrebacks are foreigners. If we try to find a replacement for (Motebang Sera) at centre-forward, (the strikers at big clubs) are foreigners,” he said.
“I am proposing we reduce it to three (foreign players) that start a match. We cannot discriminate against foreigners because they are coming to help us, but we are realising that we are not performing well with the national team, (so) let’s increase the slots for Basotho,” he continued.
LEFA’s eye is not just on the players, the federation has also closed the door on foreign coaches who come to Lesotho to earn the CAF A Licence, only for them to leave. The A Licence is the second highest coaching qualification offered by CAF and it is a must-have requirement for a coach to sit on the bench during CAF competitions.
It is cheaper to acquire the licence in Lesotho as it is heavily subsidised by LEFA. In other countries it is difficult to get a CAF A Licence because it is expensive and can cost upwards of M80 000.
In Lesotho it costs a mere M2 500 and few foreigners have benefited from that generosity, but the association has now closed the tap.
“The (LEFA technical director Lehlohonolo Thotanyana) has agreed that from now on we are not allowing foreigners unless they are nominated by their countries to be part of our coaching courses because after they acquire their licence they leave, we take even assistant coaches we make them A Licence coaches and they leave,” Mohapi said.
LEFA president Advocate Salemane Phafane added that the quota of youth players has to increase as part of the repackaging of local competitions
Phafane said the majority of players in the A Division should be Under-20 players. Currently, in the A Division the youth quota is two players.
“We have to increase the youth quota; in this day and age can we really be proud that a 35-year-old man is playing for a C Division team? It should be young kids of 17-years (playing). When you go to A Division, 90 percent is U20. I think next season it’s going to increase,” Phafane said.
“We will only be developing if a minimum of five are players are Under-20,” the LEFA president added.
“We are not going to develop if we continue using old players and yet when it comes to the national team people start saying coaches are playing old players, where will they get the young ones when we play old players in the league?”
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.
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.
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:
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies
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