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Bonga: a champ in the making

By Pascalinah Kabi

MASERU — He is only 17.

But Bonga Mthethwa is already a household name in local sports, darts in particular.

He has so far collected four trophies and more than 12 medals in his short career.

Mthethwa, a Masianokeng High School student, burst onto the local stage at the Maseru Open Darts Championship in 2008.

He says he was introduced to the sport by Tlali Letsie who is the president of the Lesotho Darts Association in late 2007.

From then he has never looked back.

He says he spends all his weekends playing darts.

The hard work that he put in paid off when he won his first international accolade at the Maseru youth games in 2008.

He went on to defend the title in 2009 and 2010 until he lost it on Sunday at Lesotho Sun, something that has left his heart sore.

Swaziland’s Andile Malambe was crowned the new champion.

Mthetwa says he is determined to reclaim the title next year.

“I put myself under a lot of pressure when I heard I was going to play against someone who had won all SA (South Africa)’s junior competitions,” Mthethwa told the Sunday Express on Sunday.

“It’s a very painful experience losing a title I have held close to my heart over the past three years,” he said.

He added: “It is true that I am keeping all those trophies and medals but people will never understand how much this title meant to me, my family and my team.”

Mthethwa said the change of environment also contributed to his performance.

“The change of environment also contributed because it was a bit cold there (Lesotho Sun) as compared to Maseru Sun.

“We were playing next to the door and it was a bit cold.

“Again, I used to camp for free at the hotel prior to and during the games and this year this did not happen. This also affected my performance,” Mthethwa said.

Nevertheless, Mthethwa still went home all smiles at the end of the tournament.

Together with his teammate, Tsepang Makoanyane, Mthethwa won the youth pairs’ plates finals and both youngsters went home with a trophy.

Mthethwa also won the youth singles plates and went home with a gold medal.

He also won the Maseru Open Darts Championship safety pin by scoring the highest score of 180 in the youth pairs’ plates finals.

Mthethwa said he managed to achieve all these because of commitment.

“I always ensure that I balance my schoolwork and sport and I am fully committed to each of them,” Mthethwa said.

“But most importantly, I do not smoke or drink.”

He said that the Lesotho Darts Association (LDA) has ensured that the youth play in non-drinking and non-smoking zones.

“It is true that we practice and play in bars but our managers always make sure that we play in non-drinking and non-smoking zones,” he said.

Mthethwa added: “For example, where I practice and play, the ground has been partitioned and there is one for adults and the other for the youth team.”

He said people must understand that darts is a gentlemen’s game and  not for drunkards.

“This is a gentlemen’s sport. Drunkards are not allowed into the hall and it’s a non-smoking zone. It is a very strict sport and it is helping to bring the best out of youngsters,” Mthethwa said.

LDA public relations officer Lebohang Khojane shared the same sentiments.

“As you can see, there is a lot of adding, subtraction and multiplication done during the game and this helps these youngsters with their mathematics at school,” Khojane said.

“Bonga is one of the best youth players we’ve ever had and we are in a process of empowering players like him,” he said.

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