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Top FIFA instructor conducts seminar



MASERU – As part of continued efforts to develop women’s football, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) is hosting a weeklong coaching course at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
The seminar, which began on Monday, ends tomorrow and a total of 28 coaches are being put through their paces by Jacqueline Shipanga, a FIFA coaching instructor from Namibia.
The overarching theme of the get-together is to find ways to improve women’s football which, according to Shipanga, is on the up as demonstrated by Lesotho’s increasing involvement in COSAFA, CAF and FIFA competitions.

The case in point is Lesotho’s women national team, Mehalalitoe, which returned to international competition in 2016 after spending three years without kicking a ball.
Since then Lesotho has played 12 FIFA recognised games and this year took part in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for the first time since 2011.
Mehalalitoe managed to beat Swaziland 3-1 in the first round of the qualifiers before falling to South Africa at the final hurdle.
All this progress can be traced to the inauguration of the Women’s Super League in 2015 – Lesotho’s first top-flight ladies league – and Shipanga said in order to build on the progress, it is crucial to regularly host such courses.

“Lesotho is on the right track because the country participates in FIFA World Cup qualifiers and CAF qualifiers as well as COSAFA (competitions) so it is important that we all congratulate LEFA (but) Lesotho football coaches are in dire need of refresher courses more often to help them with skills and also remind them of the laws of the game,” she said.
It is even more vital, Shipanga continued, to discover and develop players at a young age.

“I believe in a notion that says ‘hands on the current and eyes on the future’,” she said.
“It is important to recruit children from an early age so that they grow into the sport and they have to participate in youth competitions to get experience and exposure. If we are going to have COSAFA under 17 or 18 (tournaments), it is going to be hard to get players if children are not recruited at early stages.”

Those young players, of course, need quality coaching to reach their potential, which is where initiatives such as this week’s coaching seminar come in.
Shipanga said it should be possible to host more courses, thanks to the FIFA “Forward” Development Programme which was launched in 2016 by the football world governing body.
The programme, according to FIFA, is tailor-made to support football development in each of FIFA’s 211 member associations and six confederations.
As part of the programme, each national association has access to US$750 000 per year for football projects such as pitches, competitions and women’s football.
Every association also receives up to US$500 000 per year for running costs in areas including administration and governance.

“FIFA president (Gianni Infantino) has set up strategic and deliberate programmes that will help women’s football such as the FIFA “Forward” Programme,” Shipanga said.
“A lot of funding will be given to federations more specifically to develop and assist the member associations with establishment of the leagues and participate in various competitions.”
She added: “We are focusing on the intermediate because most of the coaches have attended level one (coaching courses). It is also important to keep the girls who have been playing for a long time in the game because they are the future coaches and administrators.”

Women’s football in Lesotho definitely needs all the help it can get.
Despite the admirable enthusiasm of those involved in the women’s game, it faces huge challenges when it comes to infrastructure and resources.
Clubs, for example, do not have sponsors and players need separate jobs because they are not paid which sometimes makes them unavailable for their teams.
A person well-versed with these issues is Women’s Super League president Maleshoane Mokhathi.

She says the country has to improve on a lack of planning and a failure to recruit players at an early age.
“We have to start by developing our kids at an early stage; in fact, we need to start at primary school level so that they grow up knowing football thoroughly. We start developing players when they get to high school and that has to change,” Mokhathi said.

“We fail to identify kids because we do not pay attention to them enough to see what they could do best,” she added.
“As coaches we have to improve ourselves so that rolling from step A to step B becomes easy for the sake of developing our game.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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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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