Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

‘Lioli for life’

LIOLI PIC ()MASERU — For the past 12 months, as they have done during the MGC Supa 8, Lioli fans have invaded football grounds all over Lesotho.

Clad in their traditional maroon, yellow and black they have sung, hollered and danced — usually witnessing their heroes win.

It’s all part of a new era of success for the Teyateyaneng side.

For years Lioli have been the architects of beautiful football.

Now Tse Nala want to be accustomed to winning trophies as well.

As it happens general consensus in Teyateyaneng is that this could be the best crop of players Lioli have ever had.

“By results this is one of the best Lioli teams ever,” Tse Nala fan Mososo Ntaopane glows.

“We have had many great teams, but you have to look at the fact that this team has won our first title in 24 years.”

Yes, Ntaopane, 30, is a self-confessed Lioli fanatic.

He speaks to the Sunday Express dazzling as a peacock in his colourful Lioli attire, which he wears “seven days a week”.

This weekend he boards Lioli’s bus tours to Roma, where success is expected at the MGC Supa 8’s finals.

Still, whatever the outcome of this two-day bonanza, Lioli fans — like their team — can claim to be the best in the country.

“When our players hear us sing they perform even better, when they are under stress it gives them encouragement,” Ntaopane says.

“Lioli’s players can see that they are the most cared for.

“Automatically that changes the thinking of a player — they cannot disappoint so many people.

“It makes them play well.”

Lioli are becoming relevant in more and more households around Lesotho.

The club now has official supporters’ branches in Maseru, Ha-‘Mamathe, Teyateyaneng and Mapoteng.

“What we have here is a diamond bigger than Letšeng, one that can advance Lesotho,” Ntaopane says with a grin. “We just have to look after it.”

Ntaopane is foremost a song leader at his side’s matches.

He also manages Lioli’s merchandise franchise based at Epic Printers in Maseru.

There fans can purchase club hats, clothing and even flops.

“It got serious in 2007. Lioli supporters were coming to Maseru with their hats and attire, so I went to TY to get my own hat,” Ntaopane recalls.

“But when I got back here my colleagues at work were harassing me for it. So I went back to TY to get more hats which I sold to them.

“That’s when we realised we needed to have this thing full-time.”

Ntaopane’s recollections illustrate just how far Lioli have come in a short space of time, on and off the field.

Furthermore Lioli fans, once notorious for violence, are now a model to fans the country over.

“It is something that we stamped out as fans and committees,” Ntaopane says.

“Now we are an example to the rest of the country — at the Top Mount we were chosen as the best fans.

“These days we wear push-ins. How can we fight wearing push-ins? How will we run away?” he says with a laugh.

“Where we see a mistake we try to stop it as fans.”

Sadly though they — and all fans in Lesotho — are getting raw deals.

Grounds have no seating or safety features, while the playing fields their heroes perform on are pitiful.

“It’s a serious problem,” Ntaopane says.

“You go to the ground and you know you are going to stand throughout the game.

“The conditions are not good at all. It’s not easy.

“And wherever the team goes we go — Butha-Buthe, Qacha, Mohale’s Hoek, Maputsoe and Mafeteng.”

“We love Lioli,” Ntaopane adds.

“We sing for 90 minutes and whether it’s raining or not we don’t care.

“On Monday the voice is gone, but it’s for a good cause.”

Ntaopane believes it will be more exciting with a little extra challenge from Lioli’s rival fans.

“We want a challenge from other teams’ fans as well so that we can develop our football,” he says.

“Bantu are there, even Matlama, it’s only when we compete that we will go to greater heights.”

However, in the meantime, all attention for Ntaopane and his comrades is on Roma, LMPS and a possible MGC Supa 8 gong.

“I expect fireworks,” Ntaopane says.

“Simunye were the ones who knocked us out of the Imperial Top 8 last year and then they were the first to beat us in the league.

“It’s a blessing in disguise because we wanted them. We want our revenge.”

Ntaopane is confident Lioli will sweep everything before them this time round.

“This year we are winning everything,” he says. “It’s operation ‘Lioli vat alles’.”

Comments are closed.