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Labour of love reaps rewards


Faku Masupha has single handedly worked to raise the profile of basketball in Lesotho with his efforts finally recognised at the LBA awards.

Moorosi Tsiane

IN times past, basketball had been considered the preserve for only those players based in Maseru, but Faku Masupha has been determinedly working to buck that trend.

Masupha won the accolade of Coach of the Year with four different teams, namely Christ the King and Bereng high schools, as well as Rovers male and female teams at the Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) awards on 20 March.

Born in Teyateyaneng but bred in Mafeteng, the 23-year-old has blazed a trail in local basketball, with his efforts finally paying off with the four awards.

In an interview with the Sunday Express, the former Christ the King player said the road to making his beloved basketball a national sport has been far from easy, adding there is still a lot more to be done.

“I grew up playing basketball but it was never easy because, for a long time, it was known only as a sport for Maseru-born kids. So I always had to work harder than them to prove this myth wrong,” Masupha said.

He said the love affair with basketball began in primary school after being mentored by coach Khiba Pitso in Mafeteng, whom he credits for instilling in him a will to succeed.

“I started playing basketball at Mafeteng Accelerated Primary and then moved to Christ the King High School,” said Masupha.

“I believe that the passion I have for basketball came from my primary school days since I was already playing for the likes of Bereng and Johnsons Baker High Schools in Mafeteng.”

In a bid to develop basketball beyond Maseru, he launched the Bokamoso Development Programme in 2013 to nurture players from an early age so they can graduate to the senior teams in the National Basketball League (NBL).

According to Masupha, 11 of the 12 female players who competed in the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games last year were products of the Bokamoso programme.

Added to that, Masupha said he is also working on another programme called Super League to train children up to the age of 13 so as to create a pool of players who can then compete in the upcoming 2018 AUSC games to be held in Lesotho.

“I have realised that our sports associations are always looking for immediate results. As a result, we usually fall short hence my coming up with this idea of recruiting kids from the age of 13 so they can understand basketball fundamentals and basics,” he said.

“We need to set up solid basketball structures and ensure that the players understand the basics of the sport. Only then can we be able to have great players and that’s why we must plan ahead.”

Masupha said while challenges remain, there is reason for optimism since teams based outside of Maseru are faring well against those based in the capital.

“Basketball in Lesotho is growing since teams from outside Maseru are also now winning tournaments,” he said.

“It shows that we are heading somewhere and I am also pushing to ensure we have teams in every district that can compete in different basketball leagues.”

Masupha also paid tribute to LBA President Molupe Mothepu who he said has been sponsoring the Bokamoso project from his personal funds.

“I presented the Bokamoso idea to the LBA and that was when Mothepu came on board and supported the project using his own finances,” he said.

Added to these responsibilities Masupha also coaches Johnson Baker, Christ the King, Bereng, St John and St Mary’s High schools and Buffalos from Maputsoe, TY dolphins, Naleli Vipers, Mapoteng Black Hyenas, Butha-Buthe Killer bees and Rovers.

Unsurprisingly, the busy schedule has taken a toll on his studies and his major challenge is striking a balance between the two vocations.

“I learned the hard way to focus on my studies after failing two courses in my second year at National University of Lesotho,” said the Geography undergraduate.

“I am in my third year now so I try to find a balance. I concentrate on basketball programmes on weekends and holidays while I do my school work during the week.”

“My mother complains that I put basketball before everything else since I sometimes miss some important family gatherings. But I appreciate what she has been doing as a parent because when the going gets tough I always run to her.”

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