IN a recent edition of our sister Lesotho Times newspaper, we carried the welcome news of a nascent football academy that has opened its doors to nurturing raw talent in Lesotho with a view to developing future stars who will showcase their talent on the biggest stages of world football.
Dubbed the Football Academy Plus, the Cape Town-based South African institution has several branches including in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Polokwane and Pietermaritzburg.
The brainchild of the Croat, Sebastijan Ribic, which began operating in 2012 has now opened a branch in Maseru.
Ribic recently told the Lesotho Times that he was approached by legendary coach, Katiso Mojakhomo, to set up shop in Lesotho and this is certainly a welcome development given the struggles of local athletes to make an impact outside Lesotho’s borders.
Those in the know have always cited the lack of proper development structures as the main cause of our sports stars’ failure to compete well on the international stage and even to export our talent in significant numbers to South Africa.
During one conversation with Mojakhomo, he emphasised the need for developmental teams if our players were to stand any chance of shining in other leagues beyond our borders and I must say that I am happy that he has done his bit to ensure that such a development structure came to fruition.
Mojakhomo who won the league with LCS is well-known for his preference for youth in his squads.
He has played his part and my hope is that the Lesotho Football Association will do all it can to support this initiative and work to secure sponsors who can increase the footprint of this and similar initiatives to reach all districts in the country.
It is an open that we continue to struggle against our regional and continental counterparts. The recent exit of Bantu from the prestigious CAF Champions League simply extended our wretched run in continental football which has gone to almost two decades of failing to navigate the preliminary stage of that competition.
We have become the whipping boys in football in Africa and unless there is a sea change in the manner we develop our players and administer our overall preparations, I am afraid every team will always look forward to playing Lesotho.
The football academy can be the answer to our troubles as it will not only instil the badly needed professional ethos but also help to nurture players who can be exported beyond our borders at an early age.
It may even take us a decade or more to begin enjoying the fruits of this project but it will be well worth the wait.
When Germany lost the World Cup to Brazil in 2002, they went straight back to the drawing board and began a countrywide process of identifying and grooming future stars. The fruits were harvested in 2014 when the likes of Philip Lahm, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Podolski and others hammered Brazil on their own turf by an unbelievable 7-nil margin on their way to silencing a Lionel Messi-led Argentina in the final to lift football’s biggest prize.
This is to say that there is no shortcut to success. Everything must be properly planned and executed. It is my firm belief that this academy will be the answer to our football struggles. Hats off to Mojakhomo and his partners.