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Swallows rewards top players

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MASERU – After surviving Vodacom Premier League relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, Swallows held a ceremony last Saturday to thank their players and hand out prizes to the standout performers from their miraculous survival campaign.

Swallows were stuck in the relegation zone for the majority of last season but a last-gasp surge saw them escape the axe with Likhopo and Sefotha-fotha instead dropping down to the first division.

Swallows held an informal event in Mazenod at the weekend to celebrate and the club chairman Mosa Seoli said they are working to establish several revenue streams that can generate income for the club.

A lack of finances has long been Swallows’ Achilles heel and has often been the roots of their struggles.

Last season they were forced to play their home games 33 kilometres away from Mazenod in Nyakosoba and Seoli said ‘Maswai-swai’ are fixing their ground so they can play games in Mazenod and generate money from gate-takings.

He added that Swallows will soon hold a conference discussing the club’s future plans and he urged supporters to attend. Swallows have struggled for several seasons, Seoli admitted, and he said the management committee is determined to fix the club’s administration and stabilise the development of players.

Those plans need the support of the Mazenod community, the chairman underlined.

“I want to tell you where we are going. I am asking you supporters to come and help us, please be there at the conference centre in two weeks’ time,” Seoli said.

“We are going to officially give a report on how we worked on everything with regards to administration of the team from two years ago.”

Swallows are one of several clubs in Lesotho’s elite league that do not have a sponsor. They incur heavy costs to get through a season and the money has to come from the pockets of club administrators or well-wishers.

The club’s coffers are not enough to pay player salaries and they are also unable to hold on to their best players when bigger clubs come knocking. Seoli said Swallows need to have more income streams to combat their challenges.

“Even if you are running a Premier League without paying players at all and only giving them transport and food, you still need M300 000. You can imagine where that money came from, it came from you (supporters) in different ways,” he said.

“We need to have different streams of revenue, if we subscribe as supporters that is the first one, if we play our games here at home, that is another one. Unfortunately, we had to play in Nyakosoba (last season) but we are fixing our grounds. We are asking you for help, go there and help,” the Swallows chairman said.

Seoli added that the club is in the process of registering their logo which was designed by a Mazenod native in order to make sure only the club uses it.

Also speaking at the event, Swallows head coach Teele Ntšonyana, who masterminded the club’s top-flight survival after arriving in February, praised the players for their courage but he warned them not to be dragged into a relegation dogfight again next season.

“To me you are like heroes and I want to thank you guys and the management that remembered that it was important to tell you that you are important,” Ntšonyana said.

“But, let me remind you of the big one – we are not here to fight another relegation. Next season I am asking you to show up from the beginning of the season.”

Swallows Awards:
Most Disciplined Player
Refiloe Qhobosheane
Player’s Player of the Year
Refiloe Qhobosheane
Supporter’s Player of the Year
Mohau Khali
Most Improved Player of the Year
Tanki Tsibela
Top Scorer
Mohau Khali
Supporter of the Year
Thabo Moeketse
Presidential Award
Mokone Moshe

Tlalane Phahla

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Netball in turmoil

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MASERU – The Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) have intervened in the internal squabbles within the Lesotho Netball Association (LNA).

The LNA executive committee is divided into two camps. There is one camp within the LNA that is accused of being influenced externally by an individual in Zimbabwe. That camp has ganged up against the current LNA president, ‘Mamotšabi Lekhabunyane.

The timeline of the infighting and attempts to overthrow Lekhabunyane began on June 11 with a “show cause letter” to the association’s treasurer Keketso Mokitimi.

The letter was signed by LNA secretary general Lineo Palime and it accused Mokitimi of presenting a fake financial report that was rejected by all LNA members. The letter further alleged that Mokitimi promised to present an acceptable report but has since been giving the executive the run-around, despite being reminded to present the report on numerous occasions.

On top of presenting a dubious report, the letter by Palime accused Mokitimi of failing to submit a yearly budget to the committee as stipulated by the LNA’s constitution.

“You are also aware that you violated the constitution and connived with the former president to withdraw money and use it without permission from the executive committee,” Palime’s letter said.

“The executive committee requested you on several occasions to submit a bank statement in order for us to know the true situation of our financial affairs, but you ignored it,” the letter continued.

Mokitimi was given seven days to respond and give reasons why he should not be suspended and hauled before a disciplinary committee. Palime was on a roll with her axe wielding and accusations.

On the same day she wrote a three-page letter demanding the removal of the LNA president Lekhabunyane from office. The letter accused Lekhabunyane of “interfering negatively in almost every department with the serious intention of ensuring that nothing moves forward positively.”

Palime said the kind of behaviour the president had displayed needed to be corrected urgently before it renders the LNA useless. In the letter, she accused Lekhabunyane of advising and directing the association’s treasurer, Mokitimi, wrongly to the point that he presented a fake financial report.

Palime said these actions have caused members to distrust the LNA’s executive committee and view them as dishonest and/or incompetent.

“You suffocate all developmental good projects submitted by the office of the director of development, for the purpose of persuading the members to see the office as not functional,” Palime said in her letter directed at the LNA president.

The accusations labelled in the letter seem personal as Lekhabunyane’s integrity was called into question. The letter went as far as accusing her of being a bad role model that drinks alcohol in front of young netball players.

Lekhabunyane’s antagonists also accused her of failing to assemble national teams for both men and women because of her personal interests. The letter basically called Lekhabunyane incompetent, manipulative, dishonest, coercive, despot and, above all, a gossiper.

“You singlehandedly make decisions that negatively affect not only us as the committee, but the entire netball family. We believe your removal from office and reinstating of the former SG (secretary general) will bring back sanity in the netball fraternity as before,” the letter signed by Palime said.

To date the accusations have not been validated by tangible proof and this paper has not been able to independently verify them. Two days later, this vicious letter was followed by another one that called for a special general meeting.

The agenda of the meeting was to remove the president from the office as well as to see the disciplining of the treasurer, the appointment of a disciplinary committee and the reinstatement of the LNA’s former secretary general.

Lekhabunyane wrote a letter of her own advising the LNA members to ignore the letter calling for the urgent general meeting. She said the invitation was unlawful and intended to bring the association into disrepute. She also mentioned she had sought intervention from the LSRC and the LNOC.

The special meeting did not go ahead as planned as both mother bodies intervened and it is said that July 2 has been chosen as the day to fully discuss the issues within netball. Contacted for the comment, the association’s public relations officer, Telang Machela, confirmed that the executive is divided.

He expressed dismay at the office of the secretary general which he said appears to be functional only when drafting letters. Machela, who is clearly in Lekhabunyane’s camp, accused the rebelling group of having outside influences and said they plan to meet the minister of sport to discuss the matter after the intervention on July 2.

“I think they need to be counselled, some of the things they are doing are being pushed from outside by an individual in Zimbabwe who seems to have interest,” Machela alleged.

“The president was working hard and this office (of the secretary general) was dead; it’s only working now when they are writing letters,” he said.

LSRC would not comment on the infighting except to say the issues are ongoing and being worked on. Whether the intervention on July 2 will bring the LNA’s warring factions to the same page remains to be seen.

Tlalane Phahla

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Top football awards set for tomorrow

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MASERU – Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) marksman Katleho Makateng, Matlama playmaker Jane Thabantšo and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) hitman Makara Ntaitsane will vie for the prestigious Vodacom Premier League player of the season award tomorrow night.

The trio were revealed as the headline nominees this week as the Vodacom Premier League finally announced the end of the season awards to be held at Avani Maseru.

The annual awards ceremony is usually held immediately at the end of the season but the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) said they struggled to secure a venue which caused the delay.

With a location now secured, the league will finally reward the individuals that impressed last season and it comes as no surprise that newly-crowned champions Matlama lead the nominations with seven nominees across the board.

In total there are 10 categories up for grabs, including the referee and assistant referee of the season. Some categories already have obvious winners such as the top scorer award which will go to Makateng who topped the league’s scoring charts with an impressive 20 goals.

Other categories, however, are wide open with Matlama coach Mothobi Molebatsi battling it out with Motheo Mohapi of LDF and LCS’s Shalane Lehohla for the coach of the season crown.

In the midfielder of the season category, meanwhile, LDF’s Tšepo Toloane is sandwiched between two Matlama stars – Thabantšo and Lisema Lebokollane. All eyes, however, will be on the night’s biggest award which will see a first-time winner from one of Makateng, Thabantšo or Ntaitsane.

Makateng, who joined the LDF in January 2021 from first division outfit Litšilo, impressed for both club and country in his maiden Vodacom Premier League campaign and he could walk away as the big winner tomorrow night.

Nominees:
Referee of the Season
Lebalang Mokete
Retšelisitsoe Molise
Leloko Motlaase

Assistant Referee of the Season
Lesupi Puputla
Puleng Mahomo
Siza Dlangamandla

Coach of the Season
Molebatsi Mothobi
Motheo Mohapi
Shalane Lehohla

Midfielders of the Season
Tšepo Toloane
Jane Thabantšo
Lisema Lebokollane

Defender of the Season
Kopano Tseka
Tšeliso Lekhooa
Rethabile Rasethuntša

Goalkeeper of Season
Tankiso Chaba
Sekhoane Sekhoane
Monaheng Ramalefane

Young Player of the Season
Katleho Makateng
Thapelo Mohale
Teboho Montlha

Player’s Player of the Season
Katleho Makateng
Jane Thabantšo
Makara Ntaitsane

Player of the Season
Katleho Makateng
Jane Thabantšo
Makara Ntaitsane

Top Scorer
Katleho Makateng (20 goals)

Tlalane Phahla

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Marabe leaves Bantu

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MASERU – It is the end of an era at Bantu after the Mafeteng giants released long-serving stalwart Mokone Marabe yesterday. Bantu announced Marabe’s departure from the club along with that of goalkeeper Thabo Selisa.

The duo are the first official player departures from ‘A Matšo Matebele’ this off-season with more players expected to leave as Bantu look to rebuild their squad and compete for honours next season.

Bantu finished fourth in the Vodacom Premier League last season as they disappointingly relinquished the title which they won in 2020 to Matlama. Bantu finished 14 points behind the champions and their performance has sparked sweeping changes.

Two weeks ago, Bantu elected a new executive committee with the promise of revamping the playing squad. Marabe and Selisa are the first to go.

Marabe joined Bantu in 2011 from Likhopo and helped the club win four league titles during his glittering time in Mafeteng. During that time the striker also shared the dressing room with his brother Litšepe Marabe who left the club in January for India.

Despite being a crucial part of Bantu’s title victories in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2020, Marabe’s days at the club appeared to be numbered as the majority of his game-time last season came from the bench.

Marabe and Selisa were not the only ones shown the door yesterday. Bantu also let go of the entire technical team that was hired in February to replace Thabo Tsutsulupa.

That crew includes Teboho Tšiu, Jomo Monaphathi, Liteboho Mokhesi as well as Thapelo Mokhehle, the former Bantu captain who had joined the coaching staff after bringing an end to his playing career.

Bantu are in the market for a new coach and the club’s spokesperson, Pule Mosoatsi, said the club has already begun the search.

“We are looking for a coach but it is still early and there is no name that has come forward,” he said.

Bantu’s new committee that was elected two weeks ago is again led by club president John Leuta who retained his position uncontested. Mosoatsi said strengthening Bantu’s squad is a priority.

“With regards to new players, we will announce them as soon as we are ready,” he said.

Tlalane Phahla

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