Naledi Funeral Planners and Bantu launched a landmark M2.4 million sponsorship of the Mafeteng giants this week.
The momentous deal is for three and a half years and marks the largest ever sponsorship of a sports club in Lesotho.
The launch was held on Tuesday at Botleng Guesthouse in Ha-Makhoathi and on top of the sizeable windfall the defending champions will be receiving, Naledi also announced a burial policy for Bantu and their fans from which the Mafeteng giants will earn a share of monthly profits from every policy paid.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Naledi’s chief executive officer (CEO), Thabiso Madiba, said negotiations started some time ago and the relationship with Bantu finally became effective in December.
Tuesday was the official signing of the sponsorship and for the first six months of the deal Naledi will give Bantu M50 000 on a monthly basis before giving the club R60 000 every month for the next three years.
Naledi has only been operating in Lesotho for nine years and that they are able to commit such figures into football is nothing short of a miracle.
It is also testament to the meteoric growth the company has enjoyed.
When giving a background of the burial company and detailing how it started, Madiba became emotional and had to take a brief break before continuing his speech.
It does not come as a surprise that Madiba is spearheading a sponsorship of this magnitude given his entrenched history in local football, and his never-ending desire to bring change to the local game.
His journey started back in 2008.
At the time he was employed by Alliance Insurance and after realising the struggle league teams had with kits, he had an idea to approach Matlama and offered them a sponsored kit.
Alliance would buy Matlama a home and away kit to use all season and, in 2009, ‘Tse Putsoa’ became the first team in Lesotho to have two official kits for a season.
After Matlama, Alliance approached Lioli and then Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) shortly afterwards and until today all three clubs still enjoy the benefits and a relationship with Alliance Insurance.
“I was a football player when I was at Alliance (and) I learned how things are done and what was different about Lesotho and other countries,” Madiba said.
“I realised it is only here that all teams didn’t have a sponsor, they had companies that were donating kits; one (player) would don Adidas, one (had) Puma, as long as the colour was yellow and black. Before every weekend, teams would decide which jersey they were going to use,” he said.
“I had a dream to change football in Lesotho, many did not think it would happen given the culture in football at the time. I went to Matlama to say, ‘let me give you kit sponsorship, have one for home and one for away (games).’
“They didn’t understand at the time because they had 10 different kits. Alliance supported and Matlama was the first team to wear two colours for the year,” Madiba explained.
When other companies realised Alliance was taking over the football scene they stepped in and Metropolitan Lesotho struck a relationship with Bantu in 2011.
Madiba said Naledi is a Basotho-owned company that started from the ground and it was not easy to be where they are now. He said Naledi are happy when people are living.
He said every Friday when their drivers are making deliveries, they are always happy when the deliveries are fewer because it means they are not losing money.
“If you sell insurance products you make money through premiums people pay, if there is death it’s a loss to us. In order to make money and grow, this company (wants to) sustain the welfare of Basotho and keep them healthy, and what more if we can invest in sports?” he said.
“We want to grow the Mafeteng community in every way through Naledi’s products and we asked Bantu to help us to use their name so that the Mafeteng community can look at us as one of their own,” Madiba said.
Bantu president John Leuta said they are happy to have Naledi on board and challenged his marketing team to help the company by showing the club’s supporters the importance of having Naledi in this journey.
“We are happy to have you, this partnership took time, we were looking at this to make it right for the Mafeteng community,” Leuta said.
“You see when two giants meet – Naledi’s brand that is growing fast, and Bantu’s brand. To show you how Bantu’s brand is growing, if it was a dollar, it would be down because of the draws we have had (in the league recently), given the noise (we have heard). I promise you that was the end of it.”
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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