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Clubs divided on netball league

Leemisa Thuseho

LOCAL netball teams are split over the fate of the 2019 league which was meant to have ended between August and September with some suggesting that it must be abandoned while others say it must be played till the end.

The league started in March last year but could not be finished according to schedule due to financial challenges. Further delays were caused by the national team’s participation in the Spar Challenge International Series in Cape Town last November.

Now the latest impediment is the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) induced lockdown that has stopped all activities that require the gathering of people across the globe.

Therefore, some clubs want the league abandoned while others insist that it must be played till the end.

Before the suspension of sporting activities due to the coronavirus outbreak, the league was already on hold as the association was running a country wide talent identification tour in preparation for the December African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games. The games will be hosted by Lesotho.

There is now a serious likelihood that even after the break, focus will be on the scouting of under-20 players for the AUSC games.

Apart from that, school teams will face challenges as players will be prioritising their studies so that they can recover from the prolonged break.

LCS head coach Neo Orpen opines that the league must be abandoned given the flurry of challenges that it has encountered.

“Considering the multiple breaks that the league has gone through, I think it is prudent to abandon it and start afresh,” Orpen said.

“We have several administrative challenges that must be solved.”

Munyaradzi Shanduka, the coach of the defending champions, Leqele High School, said while the league is facing mammoth challenges, it would be unfair for top of the table teams to lose what they have worked for.

“It is an extremely difficult situation because there are teams that are at the top of the table because they have been serious from the beginning. Other teams are far behind therefore, I don’t know which criteria can be used to determine the champion. However, just abandoning it will be punishing for some teams,” Shanduka said.

He said whatever decision is made should ensure that the teams’ respective sponsors get the yields that they had expected from their investments.

Shanduka said the netball leadership was responsible for the prevailing challenges hence it must have a solution.

“Our leadership brought us into this mess. I understand that some of the challenges were not their fault but I believe they have a solution for all the problems,” Shanduka said.

Masitise coach Anna Shale is in support of abandoning the league.

Shale is also Lesotho Netball Association (LNA) Secretary General and she thinks it is high time the leadership engages a sponsor.

For his part, Phuthiatsana coach Keketso Mokitimi, said while he supports cancellation of the league, he knows that the issue of relegations and promotions would be difficult to handle.

“I would support restarting the league but the question is how are we going to relegate and promote teams. The other issue is how are we going to compensate teams for their expenses if we cancel the league,” Mokitimi said.

LNA public relations officer ‘Mamakebe Moshoeshoe said the committee will decide the way forward after the Coronavirus break. She however insists that the league must be played till the end.

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