THE Lesotho Table Tennis Association (LeTTA) has cried foul over its omission from the 22-member Team Lesotho for the in 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to be held in Australia from 4 to 15 April.
Lesotho was initially supposed to be represented at the games in the athletics, boxing, cycling, weightlifting and table tennis categories, but according to LeTTA secretary general, Kopano Mokhafola, the Lesotho Commonwealth Games Association (LCGA) wrote to them at the end of last month to inform them that the two table tennis players had been withdrawn from the team.
Mr Mokhafola said they were informed that the withdrawal arose from the duo’s failure to meet the required standards in terms of performance.
He said they found the decision disturbing and baffling because they further told to first enroll their players in more international competitions to enable them to gain the necessary exposure and yet they were never received any assistance to do so.
“It was said that we had to take our athletes to participate in more international games for them to gain exposure before going to the Commonwealth Games but we were never given any financial assistance to achieve that,” Mr Mokhafola said.
“Towards the end of last December we met with the LCGA to discuss how they would assist us to prepare our athletes for the Commonwealth Games and we were allocated M24 000 for preparations.
“We drew up a plan of action and sent it to LCGA and we never got a response. I followed up on the issue early last month and that was when I was told that we could have used the money to send our players to international tournaments. But that is surprising because we had received the money without any instructions concerning its use.”
He said they felt they were being punished and yet they had made an effort to submit a work plan which never got a response.
For her part, Team Lesotho’s head of mission, Advocate Bothobile Shebe, said the table tennis team were kicked out because LeTTA breached agreements that all associations must send their athletes to zonal or regional competitions as part of their preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
“We held meetings with all associations to explain what is expected of them. Among other things, we agreed that every association should send its athletes to zonal or regional competitions as part of their preparations for the Commonwealth Games and unfortunately LeTTA failed to comply.
“Past experiences have taught us that our athletes struggle in international competitions due to lack of international exposure hence the decision to send them to as many games as they can outside the country.
“We even went out of our way to secure M24 000 sponsorship for them from the International Commonwealth Games Federation for their preparations. But even now they still have that money because they instead they wanted to use it to buy equipment” she said.
She said they even organised Lehakoe Recreation Centre for training purposes but LeTTA never made the effort to ensure their athletes trained there as they did not bother to collect their access cards from the Lesotho National Olympic Committee offices.
“The last straw was when they told us that their athletes would need at least three months to prepare before they can compete outside the country and that was in mid-January. That was when resolved to omit them from our team,” Shebe said.