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AUSC preps in limbo

Leemisa Thuseho

TEAM Lesotho’s preparations for the 2020 African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games in December are in limbo.

This after the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation failed to respond to the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and the National Sport Associations’ (NSA) petition demanding that the ministry releases funds for preparing teams for the games. The money will also fund activities of the sporting federations.

The LSRC and the sports associations wrote to the ministry on 17 February 2020 demanding a response by 15 March 2020 failure of which they would withdraw their teams from the preparations of the AUSC games.

They threatened to involve the different parliamentary committees to get recourse in the matter. If that failed, the LSRC and NSAs said they would withdraw their teams from the games.

LSRC public relations officer Teboho Rakhomo said the commission and the sports associations would soon meet to map the way forward after the ministry failed to respond within the given time.

“We have only failed to meet because of the measures that have been put in place to curb with the spread of the Coronavirus,” Rakhomo said.

However, he said they were now considering engaging through other platforms that do not require them to meet physically.

The petition was a resolution from LSRC and NSAs’ meeting of 16 February 2020 in Maseru.

LSRC and NSAs also complained that the bulk of the Sports ministry’s budget was spent non-essential programmes thereby affecting sports development.

“Surprisingly the biggest chunk of the money allocated to the department of sport was used in the administration of the ministry as opposed to supporting sport activities,” the reads.

Sports principal secretary Tjoetsane Seoka was reluctant to respond to the issues raised by the petition but said he would only speak this week.

Meanwhile, the closure of schools around the country from Thursday until 20 April 2020 to curb the spread of the Coronavirus could also spell doom for the preparations that have already been disrupted countless times.

The teams were expected to assemble for their first camp during the Easter holidays but that is no longer feasible.

Team Lesotho chef de mission Caswell Moru told the Sunday Express that they would not consider staging the camp under the prevailing circumstances.

“Due to the fact that all the sporting activities in the country are currently on hold, the camp is cancelled,” Moru said.

He said the next time that they may now access the athletes would be during the upcoming winter holidays.

“The only convenient period to have the camp is now in June and we are anticipating to have a lengthy camp,” Moru added.

Moru conceded that their failure to hold the camp would affect their preparations since they have already failed to host the December 2019 camp.

Lesotho has been scouting athletes through different sporting activities across the country but the process has also been cancelled.

On the other hand, Moru said they are hoping to use the Lesotho Institutions Sports Association (LISA) athletics national championships initially scheduled for early next month as their scouting platform. The event has now been postponed to a yet to be announced date.

The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has already withdrawn its teams from the games citing the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission and the ministry’s failure to provide funds for the preparations.

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