MASERU — Butha-Buthe will be part of this year’s Vision 2020 Games after being disqualified in 2008.
The district has received sponsorship from World Vision Nthabiseng ADP that will allow the team to get passports — the mode used to verify the participants’ ages.
The Vision 2020 Games are an annual youth tournament and this year, would be for under-18s.
Last year, Butha-Buthe was disqualified because their players did not have the proper registration.
“The sponsorship will allow us to get passports for our athletes. It is a milestone for us. Last year, we were disqualified because we did not have the proper documents,” Thabo Tsoaneli, Butha-Buthe’s senior sports organiser, said.
“The (Vision 2020) rules say strictly passports and we had a misunderstanding last year. There are two types of documents; a temporary travel document and a document that shows you have applied for a passport, which has a receipt-slip. Our athletes only had temporary documents so they were not allowed to take part.”
The Games have been blighted by age-cheating since their inception in 2005. In 2007, all districts, except Thaba-Tseka, were found to have had age-cheating of some sort and as a result, the awards for the tournament were not handed-out.
It is a problem that arises on the international stage, where Lesotho juniours always compete well but falter at senior level.
“The Games are important; they help us practice adhering to age-limits, as well as rules and regulations. For example, the SCASA Games are for persons who are under the age of 20 years. It is important for us to get used to following such rules,” Tsoaneli said. “Charity begins at home; you can’t go into international Games clean without having fixed your problems at home. Winning through age-cheating is not fair; it is just like doping and it hurts the country in the long run.”
The Vision 2020 Games, nonetheless, retain an undeniable importance. They are an opportunity for talent in Lesotho’s districts — which would ordinarily not be seen — to shine.
“These Games are national, so sports associations have the chance to see different athletes. We have examples of players who have performed well here and have been selected for national sides,” Tsoaneli said.
One example for Butha-Buthe is ‘Mapaseka Mokilane, who made it into Lesotho’s netball team for the Supreme Council of Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone VI Games last year, after impressing at the Vision 2020 Games.
This year’s Vision 2020 Games — to feature football, athletics, volleyball, boxing, taekwondo, five-a-side soccer for disabled persons and the popular traditional game morababa— will take place from December 18-22 in Roma.