Lesotho will not be represented in basketball at the second African Youth Games scheduled for Botswana from May 22-31, the Sunday Express heard this week.
A five-member under-17 team had already been picked for the continental tournament, but according to the Lesotho Basketball Association spokesperson Ratšolo Molupe, the country would no longer be represented in basketball at the youth extravaganza.
The withdrawal means Lesotho will only be represented in athletics, boxing, golf, taekwondo, tennis, cycling and swimming at the showpiece.
“We were supposed to send a five-member under-17 squad to take part in 3-on-3 games. But yesterday, we received a letter from the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) informing us that they had been ordered by the Botswana African Youth Games Organisation Committee (BAYGOC) and Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) to withdraw our basketball team from the games as it is not eligible to be part of the event,” Molupe said.
Molupe said such developments can only negatively affect the sport which had appeared to be gaining momentum and acceptance among Basotho.
“It’s such developments that drag us back as an association, as we had thought we were finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said Molupe.
LNOC public relations officer, Moshoeshoe Mokake, said FIBA had explained that the Lesotho basketball team had to be withdrawn since it did not meet the set criteria for the tournament.
“The 3-aside game is still new in this country, which is why we were ordered to withdraw the team by FIBA.”
“The explanation was our team did not meet the requirements because the games will be used as qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games to be held in Nanjing, China in August.”
“As a result, only the top 10 countries who have been in the sport for a long time will take part in the Botswana tournament,” Mokake said.
However, Mokake noted the withdrawal was “a lesson” which the association would use to plan for the future of the sport.
“We took this as a lesson and we will invite the association’s leaders to discuss with them how to develop the sport so that the same thing does not happen again,” said Mokake.