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The rise and rise of Bokamoso



Maseru – Bokamoso South have taken the Lesotho basketball scene by storm. The upstart team are top of the National Basketball League ahead of experienced luminaries such as national champions KTA All-Stars and Bashana Baheso (BBH) and are being viewed as serious contenders to win this season’s NBL title.
There is good reason; last October Bokamoso South captured the Sprite Memorial Independence Tournament and in December added the prestigious Sprite Summer Slam Charity Tournament to their fast growing collection of silverware.

Bokamoso South are part of the burgeoning Bokamoso Basketball Development Programme which also sees Bokamoso North topping the NBL women’s league.
The club was founded in 2012 and thepost caught up with Bokamoso head coach Fako Masupha who oversees this extensive basketball programme. In this wide ranging interview Masupha discusses Bokamoso’s style of play and plans for the future.

When and why was Bokamoso formed?
Masupha: Bokamoso was officially registered with the Lesotho Basketball Association and Ministry of Cooperatives and Trade in 2013.
The primary objective is to keep the youth of Lesotho out of trouble and to help them develop as responsible young adults and diligent members of the community.
The organisation aims to grow the mind, body and soul of the youngsters, incorporating elements of guidance and life-skills into all programming.

What is the mission or goal of the Bokamoso Basketball Programme?
Our goal is to be the primary developer of Basotho youth into responsible and diligent members of society in order to nurture more empowered generations that will turn Lesotho into a benchmark country.

How many players and teams are in your programme?
The Bokamoso Basketball Club is aimed at providing a competitive basketball atmosphere while also providing camaraderie and community service opportunities for all children under the age of 21. The club has registered four teams made up of two girls and two boys teams in the 2016/17 National Basketball League (NBL) season and is planning on registering a fifth team based on growth.  These teams in the league are part of the National Team Development Pipeline which is aimed at grooming young boys and girls for the national team at various levels for the LBA.  The two ladies teams are mostly made up of players that form the national Under-20 and Under-17 teams respectively. In basketball there are 15 players per team and Bokamoso currently has four teams, meaning that it is catering for 60 registered players.
But, we also have 115 players who are not registered with the LBA because of the limited space.

Is the programme sustainable? In terms of finances, do you have sponsors and backing?
Yes, the programme is sustainable. We are currently using money from our pockets to fund activities and we are really struggling but it’s worth mentioning that some companies and institutions are helping us.  There is 2nd Wave Fitness which is a newly established sport, health, and recreation company that is spearheading the introduction of Cross-fit (exercise) within Lesotho. Cross-fit is the sport of fitness and 2nd Wave shall be leading the development of elite athletes.
We have the Lesotho Work Camps Association which is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on community and youth development through the execution of various development projects.  There is Galitos Maseru which believed in Bokamoso and its ideals and sponsored the team with four playing jerseys (120 shorts and 120 vests).
This was a valiant effort but, because of the growth of the team, it is less than half of what is required.
Berltex Printers also believed in Bokamoso and sponsored the team with four sets of tracksuits (60 bottoms and 60 tops) but again, because of the size of the team, this is much less than is required.

Are you looking for sponsors? What are you doing to attract sponsors?
It is the intention of Bokamoso to establish strategic partnerships with individuals and organisations that are champions for youth and community development and that value the development of Basotho society.  So yes, we are really looking for sponsors and please allow me to take this opportunity once again to call for help from all companies, organisations and individuals who believe in youth development through sports and values of Olympism to sponsor and or assist us.  We are actually not performing at our best due to financial constraints so we are not only opening doors for good Samaritans, but also request them to assist our initiative.

After developing the players, do you follow their progress? For the ones that don’t make the first team, do you help them find teams or assist in other ways?
Yes, we monitor players everywhere they are. Even after they leave our programme we still give them opportunities, we still call them to our camps and invite them when we leave for international tournaments.  An example is the NUL Rovers team that is almost 80 percent made up of players from our programme.
Those players still play the (annual) Swaziland club championship tournament with us and I still go over to their homes and coach them during holidays.

When did Bokamoso start in the NBL?
From my knowledge we started playing in LBA competitions back in 2012 before Bokamoso could get an official name. We first came into the LBA as “Metsoalle”.
We have been winning the LBA Development League since it started in 2012 until 2016. We then joined the LBA senior league (NBL) in the 2015/2016 season where we finished national runners up.

Why do you have Bokamoso North and South in the league?
Because Bokamoso is a national programme, we have players coming from all ten districts, including Thaba-Tseka, Butha-Buthe and Quthing.
So, because of the huge number of our players, we had to partition teams into regions because we believed that it’s easier for players coming from one region to combine and play well.
We decided to merge all southern teams and call them Bokamoso South and merge northern teams together with central Thaba-Tseka and Maseru into Bokamoso North.

How difficult was it for Bokamoso South to deal with losing the NBL men’s finals last year to KTA All-Stars? What did you learn from that defeat?
It was sad losing against KTA in the national play-off finals but considering the fact that the boys were rookies and just came into the league it was an achievement for us.
However, we had to go back to the drawing board to revise our strategies towards achieving our goal to conquer Lesotho and Africa so we had to make a few signings and we went back to gym hard to prepare for this season. Yes, we were motivated because the boys saw that they have potential (to win the title), all that was needed was hard work and dedication.
They also learnt that at the senior league level we have to have mental strength and not give away possession easily. So, we worked on their mental strength and decision-making processes.

What has been the secret to your success this season?
Hard work, dedication, mental strength is our key strength and secret so far. We have nothing but passion. We work hard and our success comes from hard work.

Which players in your team have done well this season?
Definitely as a coach I would be saying all players but Nako Mofube has been outstanding for us since 2015. He has a record of two Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophies during a space of six months in 2016.  He contested for the most improved player in 2015 season. We also have Khotso Tšepe, Makopoi Makolane and Thabang Letlala who became Rookie of the Year last year.  We also have Neo Nkokoto, Maphethe Mohale and Matšepo Mojela who have been instrumental in the ladies teams. They have been with the programme for some time now and we have the arrivals of Lebo Palime and Nkhethuoa Makhorole.  We also have players such as Liteboho Sejane, Tšepiso Motloi and Monyaluoe Lebajoa who have not been playing in the ladies side due to exams but are back in the team now and we are expecting them to provide more depth.

How would you describe your style of play? What type of basketball do you wish to play or develop as a club?
It is called Running and Gunning. It is a Mountain Kingdom style but now we have new modifications on the defence that we pressure and press the opponents.
We need to have a high conversion rate and force opponents to make mistakes and lose possession. We seek to have possession in every 15 seconds of play.

Some viewers and opponents say your style of play is too aggressive. What do you say to that?
It’s not a new thing for me to hear that. We play a high tempo game and we pressure our opponents and are a bit physical. Not everyone loves that style of play.
It’s not common in our region and the NBL and because these teams are not used to the high pressure, they can’t take the heat and they tend to be rude on the boys. But, we are not backing down; we know this is what Lesotho needs.  It’s a perfect style of play that we ought to adopt as a young team that has no experience. Also, for the fact that Lesotho’s national teams are small and lack height, we have to adopt this style of play as a nation.  But, we maintain sportsmanship and humanity; we do not injure or play out of the set rules.

What are the targets for this season?
Yes, obviously we want to win the NBL title in both categories. Our target for the rest of the season is to go undefeated.

Which other NBL teams have impressed you this season? Who are your main rivals?
I’m very pleased with NUL Rovers and Khubestate, they have really improved and they caused a couple of sad moments for big teams but not only that, they are united and working as a team.  For example, Rovers won the BOLESWA intervarsity games (contested by the University of Botswana, National University of Lesotho and National University of Swaziland) last year. Leseli (Tigers) has also improved a lot considering they have lost so many players.

Which game are you looking forward to the most in the second half of the season?
Obviously our games with KTA and BBH are the toughest ones for us because we play against talent and experience. Having said that, we treat all games with respect and, because we are underdogs, we play hard in every game regardless of the strength of the opposing team.

As the Bokamoso basketball programme, do you model your style on any club?
It’s a combination of ideas and different styles of play that I have identified in the whole of Africa and abroad, so Bokamoso plays its Mozambique and Angolan style of play.
As a coach I am obviously modelling my style on coach Mike Krzyzewski, he is the United States national team coach and Duke University coach. I also prefer former Boston Celtics coach, Doc Rivers.

Where do you want see Bokamoso in five years, 10 years?
We want Bokamoso to be the best producers of young, talented and competitive players in Lesotho and Africa. We actually seek to be a benchmark in Africa for basketball and nationally we want to be the superpowers in all aspects — administration, playing and life at large.
Luciah Phahla

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Mohlolo rescues point for LDF Ladies



A last-gasp strike by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies striker ‘Maseriti Mohlolo rescued a point for the Women’s Super League (WSL) champions against Malawi’s Ntopwa in the opener of their CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA Qualifiers yesterday.

Mohlolo’s goal keeps LDF Ladies in contention to progress to the next round with two teams from the four-team group set to qualify for the semi-finals.

Although LDF Ladies were not outplayed in the game, they missed many chances and their set-pieces left a lot to be desired.
Maybe that can be attributed to a last minute coaching change that saw Pule Khojane replace Lengana Nkhethoa as head coach of a side that won the WSL unbeaten last season.

Speaking after the game, Khojane said even though he realised early on that the Malawian team were tough physically, he still wanted LDF Ladies to play their normal passing game.
In the end, Khojane was left to lament the number of chances his side created but couldn’t convert.
Khojane said that will be a point of emphasis before LDF Ladies step onto the field again tomorrow against Botswana’s Double Action.
Tomorrow’s tie is probably a must-win with the group’s other team being defending champions Green Buffaloes of Zambia and LDF Ladies will need to convert their chances.

“We play with four at the back but with two attacking full backs, most of the time if a team plays long balls like (Ntopwa) we struggle a lot but we don’t change our game. We want to play; we want to go forward.
“That’s why sometimes we made a lot of mistakes when the ball was played high behind our backs but we still wanted to play our game and win. We were just unfortunate not to score more goals but we were playing (well),” Khojane said.

LDF conceded a late goal in the first half and were perhaps lucky to go into the half time break just a goal down.
Before Ntopwa took the lead they were awarded a penalty for a reckless foul in the box but they missed the chance to open the scoring.
LDF recovered in the second that but could not find a way into the goals.

It looked as if Lesotho’s representatives at the regional showpiece would begin their campaign with a defeat. However, Mohlolo rescued the Lesotho champions when she latched onto a poor back pass from a defender. She stole the ball and levelled matters with less than three minutes to go.
There was no time for the LDF to get a winner and they had to settle for a point in their opening group game.
They will now be looking to improve and sharpen their scoring boots for tomorrow’s showdown against Double Action of Botswana.

LDF Ladies fixtures:
August 30
LDF Ladies 1-1 Ntopwa
Double Action vs. LDF Ladies
Green Buffaloes vs. LDF Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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Makepe quits Likuena duty



Likuena captain Basia Makepe has retired from international football after leading the senior national team to silver at the recent COSAFA Cup tournament held in Durban, South Africa.
This was the first time since 2000 that Likuena had reached the final of the regional tournament where they lost 1-0 to Zambia.

The Leribe born defender will go down as one of the most decorated defenders in the country having represented his country 87 times and winning several accolades in the process.

Makepe’s leadership skills were spotted from a young age, where he was appointed captain of the national U-20 team, Makoanyane XI by Leslie Notši.
He led by example as Makoanyane XI qualified for the CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2011, which in those days was knowns as the African Youth Championship, where the side eliminated countries like Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya to qualify for the tournament.

Makepe won his first Likuena cap in a 2-1 victory over Eswatini during an international friendly match played at Setsoto Stadium in October 2012 and went on to make the squad for the 2013 COSAFA Cup in Zambia.
However, Makepe was an unused substitute at the tournament as Notši went for the tried and tested defenders such as Moitheri Ntobo, Tlali Maile and Thabo Masualle as Likuena reached the semi-finals.

He would later be appointed the Likuena captain as coach Moses Maliehe went for a younger generation at the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia, where Likuena won all their group stage matches but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Shakes Mashaba-coached Bafana Bafana.
Makepe has not only enjoyed success with the national team but won several domestic trophies at Lioli, where he was also handed the captaincy after joining from boyhood club and now defunct Joy FC.

After leaving Lioli, he joined the police outfit, LMPS FC, where he is employed as a police officer and believes he still has a few years left in his tank playing for Simunye, as the police outfit is affectionately known.

“I think I have had a career that you can say was decent and can be accepted as satisfying to the football fraternity,” Makepe said.

“For me I can say it was a good career that has had challenges here and there as well as successes here and there, which started way back with the Under-20 team.

“With Makoanyane XI, we became the second team to qualify for the Africa Youth Championship and fortunately I had the honour of being the captain of that team.”

The 32-year-old, who has come up against the best forwards on the continent from the young Mohamed Salah during the 2011 Under-20 Africa Youth Championship to the likes of Victor Osimhen, Riyad Mahrez, has singled out former Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Pitroipa as the most troublesome opponent he has faced.

“I have come up against the best from this continent from the likes of Salah and others, but I think Pitroipa of Burkina Faso was the most troublesome forward I have come up against,” he said.

“I think the successes with the senior team especially as the captain are many having reached the COSAFA semi-finals a number of times with Likuena and twice going unbeaten in the group stage in Zambia 2013 and Namibia 2016 respectively.

“Being the captain of the team was the cherry on top and getting bronze medal in 2018. I end my chapter with Likuena having played a role in helping the team get to the final for the first time in 23 years,” he said.

Makepe admitted that the 2016 edition of the COSAFA tournament was very special for him as it was the first he captained the side and they won all their group stage matches.

“The COSAFA tournament in Namibia in 2016 stands out for me especially that game against South Africa, which unfortunately we lost on penalties, but it was a good tournament overall,” he said.

“All in all, I think it was a very satisfying career with the national team though you always want more as a player. I’m happy to bow out having helped Likuena re-write history. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

“I’m very grateful to all who have supported me throughout my career, my teammates, coaches, administrators and the supporters, who were always by our side and of course the Lesotho Football Association for giving me the opportunities to lead the national team,” he said.

Mikia Kalati

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Notši picks squad for Ivory Coast tie



Lesotho interim coach Leslie Notši has named a provisional 27-man squad for the side’s final 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Ivory Coast which is scheduled for September 9.
By virtue of being the hosts of next year’s showpiece, Ivory Coast have already qualified for the tournament while Likuena no longer have a chance of joining them after back-to-back defeats with Zambia in June.

With nothing to play with but pride, Likuena can draw inspiration from their performance when the sides met in their first Group H encounter last June which ended in a goalless draw.
The match was played in Soweto and Lesotho’s memorably dogged display against their much more fancied opponents is something Notši’s charges can look to for inspiration.

Several new faces could feature in that return game in Ivory Coast.
Fresh off last month’s COSAFA Cup final display, Notši has called up some fresh blood to bolster the squad such as Khubetsoana Kamela, Tšeliso Botsane and Teboho Letsema who have each represented Lesotho’s junior teams but are yet to make the leap to the senior side.

Notši’s squad also includes the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) trio of Morena Moloi, Lebesa Lebesa and Victor Ferreira who have been called up to the national team set-up for the first time in their careers.
The most surprising inclusion is perhaps that of Ferreira who spent the majority of last season making cameo appearances from the LDF substitutes’ bench.

Speaking with LEFA’s media team, Notši said the new faces are intended to give him depth going into the 2024 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers which start in September and are reserved only for locally based players.
It means the handful of Likuena players plying their trade outside the country will be ineligible to play. The first round of the 2024 CHAN qualifiers is set to begin from September 22 to 24.

“We all know that AFCON qualification is out of our reach and the bigger picture is to prepare the team for the CHAN qualifiers, which are coming very soon,” Notši said.
“Most of these boys have come through the ranks playing for our junior national team and it’s the association’s investment that needs to be given a chance to grow,” the Lesotho mentor added.

The 27-man Likuena squad will be trimmed down to a manageable size towards the side’s departure to Ivory Coast, but the core of the players that went to the COSAFA Cup in July are expected to retain their places in the team.
Likuena have a busy schedule ahead with the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers also in the pipeline this year. Notši needs to have as strong a team as possible to compete in all the competitions.

Likuena provisional squad:
Sekhoane Moerane, Teboho Ratibisi, Mosoeu Seahlolo.
Rethabile Senkoto, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Mohlomi Makhetha, Rethabile Mokokoane, Rethabile Rasethuntša, Lebesa Lebesa, ‘Mellere Lebetša.
Lisema Lebokollane, Khubetsoana Kamele, Tšeliso Botsane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Thabo Lesaoana, Tumelo Makha, Koenehelo Mothala, Tšepang Sefali, Victor Ferreira, Tshwarelo Bereng, Teboho Letsema, Neo Mokhachance, Tšepo Toloane, Morena Moloi.
Thabiso Mari, Jane Thabantšo, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng.

Tlalane Phahla

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