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Athletes to wait longer for Covid-19 relief

Leemisa Thuseho

ATHLETES who are awaiting a Coronavirus (Covid-19) relief fund from the government may have to wait longer as the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) is yet to receive feedback from the government.

In April this year, the LSRC announced its intention to give semi-professional athletes Covid-19 relief assistance but nothing has happened since then.

The LSRC was hoping that the athletes would be assisted through the government’s Covid-19 relief fund for sectors that were hit hard by the pandemic.

LSRC public relations officer Teboho Rakhomo told the Lesotho Times at the time that they had prioritised athletics and football for the assistance.

Rakhomo said their budget request was submitted to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) through the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation but they are yet to receive the feedback.

“So far nothing has been said since we submitted our relief budget…we are still waiting to hear from the ministry,” Rakhomo told the Lesotho Times.

In a separate interview with this publication, top runner Jobo Khatoane said since submitting their names for the relief assistance, nothing has been communicated to them.

He said their struggles are getting worse by the day.

“The last time we heard about the relief fund was when we were asked to submit our names. There is no way we can generate income in this situation when there are no sporting activities… athletes are dying,” Khatoane said.

He added said the situation is posing a big threat to the future of sports because as some athletes will end up quitting to find alternative means of survival.

Khatoane financial assistance would come in handy in the prevailing times.

“We are heading to the Olympics next year and I foresee a challenge because next year most of the athletes will be working hard to get their contracts with their respective sponsors renewed. Therefore, our focus will be mostly on the races that are targeted by our sponsors.

“We have no choice but to please our sponsors because the country can’t afford to give what we get from our sponsors,” Khatoane said.

On the other hand, Motlokoa Nkhabutlane said even though they need the money, he has already lost hope of getting it.

“Our lives depend on sport and without competitions there is no way we can survive. We really need the money but by the look of things, I do not see us getting it…,” Nkhabutlane said.

Long distance veteran Lebenya Nkoka is also starting to lose hope. He said the government had turned its back on the athletes.

“We just need the government’s assistance during this Covid-19 pandemic although we have been on our own all along. Athletes play a significant part in helping the economy but the government is not appreciating that,” he said.

Nkoka said even those who had personal savings were starting to feel the heat due to the pandemic.


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