THE Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Tjoetsane Seoka has come out guns blazing against the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) for withdrawing its junior teams from the upcoming African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games.
This after LeFA last week announced that it was withdrawing its under-17 boys and under-20 women’s teams from the games after the government’s failure to provide funding for the preparations.
The multi sporting event is expected to take place in December this year.
The games will see 10 AUSC countries competing in athletics, boxing, basketball, swimming, gymnastic, volleyball, netball, football, lawn tennis and judo.
Phafane announced the withdrawal to the media in Maseru on Tuesday. He said despite submitting their M817 000 budget to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission early, they were yet to receive any funds to prepare the teams.
“We have written to them (LSRC) several times alerting them that we are running out of time but they have never responded,” Phafane said.
“In our last letter, we gave them until 28 February this year (to release the funds) but still nothing happened therefore we wrote to them to withdraw our teams. We are tired of empty promises.”
However, Seoka on Friday blasted LeFA saying the association has a superiority complex that makes them think they were better than every other sports federation.
He said while the government owed LeFA, the association had gone onto a “stunt” to shame the government through the press conference.
“I am wondering how a press conference is going to help their cause if we owe them,” Seoka said.
“Are they going to get the money now? LeFA knows very well that the government is facing serious financial challenges and we even showed them our budget which also included them.
“The problem is that they (LeFA) think they are better than others and we are partly to blame because for a long time, we have allowed them to do as they please. This must stop. Unlike other associations engage us through the LSRC, LeFA officials do not follow procedures because they think they are better than everyone else.”
Seoka said Phafane must not treat LeFA as his personal property and he must not deny young Basotho a chance to enjoy the games because of his differences with the ministry.
“The LeFA president must know that the association is for Basotho not his own and if there are problem between him and the ministry, they must not affect innocent children. This should not be about two elephants fighting while the grass (children) suffers. We will not be doing justice to Basotho children by denying a chance to showcase their talents.”
Seoka he was disappointed to hear LeFA labelling the local organising committee “incompetent”.
“It is disappointing that they have involved the LOC in the matter. Is LeFA itself competent? We always watch Likuena lose matches and can we say LeFA is incompetent?
“From now on there will no longer be direct communication between LeFA and the ministry, we will let the LSRC deal with the matter,” Seoka said.
Phafane is a prominent member of the Alliance of Democrats (AD) which is a second biggest member in the four parties’ coalition government and Seoka, who is also a member of the party, said he would be disappointed if the friction stems from politics.
“I would be very disappointed if this is coming from politics. I wouldn’t want us to involve our political party’s issues in sports,” Seoka said.
Phafane yesterday said it was absurd that Seoka was now bringing politics into sports. He said LeFA has always maintained that political affiliations must not affect their operations. He said the association’s decisions were made by the executive which has two vice presidents and five other members and not himself alone.
On the decision to pull out of the AUSC games, Phafane said it was a conscious move influenced by the need to avoid embarrassment of teams that are assembled without any preparations.
“LeFA takes a position that it deems fit. It is up to each and every federation to take a position that is sees fit.
“We have repeatedly said football accommodates all political inclinations. LeFA does not care which political party one comes from as long as the inclination is not brought to sport. The decision has nothing to do with national politics.”
Instead, Phafane said the ministry must own up to its failure to plan its games.
“The ministry must own up to its failure to plan its own games… It’s is absurd that he (Seoka) wants to bring politics into the matter,” Phafane said.