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Mathibelle shines in Soweto



MASERU – 2017 Soweto Marathon winner and Lesotho Olympian Tšepo Mathibelle (pictured)has poured his heart out and called for government and the private sector to support athletes. Mathibelle won the annual 42km marathon for the first time on Sunday in a time of 2 hours, 19 minutes and 41 second (2:19:14) and walked away with the jackpot of M220 000 cash.

It was not the first time Mathibelle has excelled at the race. Last year he finished second.
And, after beating a quality field over the weekend, Mathibelle said Basotho are as talented as the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes who dominate distance running. He said Basotho runners just need support in order to reach their potential.

He continued that he is very proud to have represented the country well and credited his preparation programme for his success.
In September, Mathibelle ran in Beijing and said he kept the same programme for the Soweto Marathon which proved vital to his victory.
“Last year I finished second, I did not know the route and what to anticipate, because when you run in places like Durban, you know there are bad places during the race just like in Mokhotlong. However, this year I came back strong and I knew the course,” he said.

Mathibelle dismissed the notion that local athletes do well in South African races but fail at the international stage.
He said Lesotho athletes don’t fail internationally because they can’t compete with their counterparts but because of lack of preparation.
Just to prepare for the Soweto marathon, Mathibelle spent M15 000 on his preparations. The money came from his pocket and he said with the right supplements and gym materials, local runners are also capable of bringing medals from overseas. He said the importance of going to the gym and preparing for big races helps athletes to get used to the routine.

“It is the quality of programme, the way you eat, the supplements and the gym. Let me tell you, South Africa has already selected a team that is going to the Commonwealth Games in Australia next year,” Mathibelle said.
“They have already started with their preparations. So you see we are going to meet people who had ample time to prepare, people who took months to prepare, and we are going to train for a month? Of course you will lose,” he continued.

“Look, we still beat these athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia here in South Africa, but when you go overseas the race there is fast and very competitive. You meet people who tell you even before the race that they came here for a medal, so if you are not prepared enough, you will only keep up with them for 30 kilometres and after that you done,” he said.
For Mathibelle the difference is the preparation.

“I remember in 2015 when I went to the World Championships, I went to the gym here at home but I had problem with the shoes I was using and the shoes that I needed cost over M3 500,” he said. “I led the race for about 30 km and they overtook me when I was about 2 km from the finish line. It was because I had a problem with my shoes, they had become hot and we were running on a tarred road. I failed to win because of that and finished in 14th position. If we can get the help we need to prepare for international events we can bring the medals. We want to represent our country, but we need support,” he said.

Mathibelle said he is still in the dark about his Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games participation. He revealed he received an invitation to go and run in South Korea next April but is yet to confirm as he is still waiting to see if he will go to the Commonwealth Games in March in Australia.
His last race this year will be on December 3 in Eastern Cape and although he qualified for the Comrades Marathon, Mathibelle said he will not be participating.

Mathibelle was not the only Lesotho runner to shine on Sunday; fellow Olympian Namakoe Nkhasi defended his 10 km title that he won last year in a time of 30:52. It was Nkhasi’s third consecutive victory in the race.
Meanwhile, Tebello Ramakongana finished third in the half marathon. In the women’s 42 km Ntebaleng Letsela finished fourth.
Teboho Sello, Lebenya Nkoka and Sootho Raletebele all finished amongst the top 10 in the main race won by Mathibelle.

Luciah 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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