Sports minister Thesele ‘Maseribane made a shocking announcement last week when he revealed that the team which represented the country in the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games held in Zimbabwe would get monetary rewards.
I am saying it was a complete surprise, not only to me but also some of the athletes I talked to after Tuesday’s announcement, because of the poor preparations they were subjected to before they left for Bulawayo after being told the ministry had no money to bankroll their training and later, even their trip.
For those not in the know, the minister said officials would pocket M2000 while each player receives M1000 for doing the nation proud in Bulawayo. Those who won bronze, silver and gold medals are going to receive M3000, M4000 and M5000, respectively in addition to the M1000 each member of the team would be pocketing, Chief ‘Maseribane added.
While I was surprised at this generosity by the minister, which should have come earlier in the form of funding for the athletes’ adequate preparations, I was also happy that at least these hardworking youngsters would be rewarded for their sweat. Such recognition encourages the athletes to do even better in future and take sport seriously as they can see its potential as a source of livelihood.
M1000 is a lot of money because this was a team of under-20s, and one would expect they don’t have that many responsibilities because of their youth.
I would also like to congratulate the team for coming home with 12 medals from Bulawayo because this team’s trip was in jeopardy until the 11th hour due to lack of funds, as I have already mentioned.
In 2012, Team Lesotho won 14 medals after going through a similar, painful process of failing to access funds until the last minute.
Like what their head of delegation said, I also think this country can do better in these international competitions if only the athletes are given adequate support by the government.
With shoddy preparations because of lack of finances, it becomes difficult for our athletes to compete against their counterparts who would have been in camp for a long time and also guaranteed a windfall in the event they succeed in such competitions.
I hope our beloved minister will always be rewarding our athletes each time they excel in such international competitions. I also hope and want to believe this was not a publicity stunt by Minister ‘Maseribane since Lesotho is heading to elections in two months’ time.
The reason why I am saying this is before the athletes left for Bulawayo, we were told government did not have money, and suddenly the minister has the cash to splash around.
At this juncture, I would also like to congratulate former Lioli coach and technical director Lehlohonolo Thotanyana on his recent appointment as Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) technical director.
With the experience Thotanyana brings to the pitch, I have no doubt he is going to help change the face of Lesotho football for the better.
I would also like to wish all our readers and sports fans a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy this festive season peacefully and responsibly and hopefully when we meet again next year, you will be in one piece. This here is Good Bye for the year—and Good Luck for 2015.