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LASA winners cry foul over delayed prizes


Leemsa Thuseho

WINNERS of the 2019 edition of the Lesotho Annual Sports Awards (LASA) are angry with the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation over the delays in the remittance of their winnings.

It’s been over a year now since the awards were held but the winners haven’t received their prize moneys. They only got trophies and certificates.

The awards were held on the 5 April 2019 at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

Each of the 24 winners is expecting M5 000.

This year’s edition failed to take off due to financial challenges.

Sechaba Khalema, who was named Sportsman of the Year, said they have waited too long for the prizes and were now losing faith in the country’s sports administration.

“It’s been over a year now and no one has given us any explanation,” Khalema said.

“It is painful and we humbly request the responsible bodies to release the money.

“It would be best for whoever is responsible to keep us posted on the problems that they are facing because they way that they are going, they are killing the awards.”

The awards’ reigning Sportswomen of the Year, Lerato Sechele said she followed up with the LSRC and did not see any hope of getting the funds any time soon.

“I have been following up but I have never received any convincing responses. All I have been told is that they are working on it.”

She said the delays have demotivated all the athletes.

“It is demotivating to win and not receive the promised prize. Winning an award and failing to get the prize is like winning a race and fail to get a medal; it’s painful.

“We will be happy to get the money as soon as possible,” Sechele said.

Winner of the biggest award, 2019 Sports Star of the Year, Tokelo Klaas said the organisers of the awards must be more professional.

“They must pay just as happened with the winners of the High-Altitude Summer Marathon,” Klaas said.

Rapelang Van Tonders, who won the President’s Award also pleaded with the organisers to fulfil their promise to restore the athletes’ faith.

“We have lost faith in the leaders. It is their responsibility to ensure that this mess is resolved. Athletes need the money because that is how they survive,” Van Tonders said.

Although they are disappointed, Umpire of the Year winner Chakatsa Lephole said they will never give up.

“We are still waiting for it as we were promised…we will not give up,” Lephole said.

For his part, LSRC public relations officer Teboho Rakhomo said the Sports ministry was largely to blame for the delays.

According to Rakhomo, even though the awards are organised by the LSRC, they are funded by the ministry adding that they were now working to resolve the matter.

“The ministry is now working to resolve the issue. I was once an athlete and I know it hurts to wait blindly,” Rakhomo said.

The chief information officer in the Sports ministry, Maqalika Matsepe, said they were currently facing financial challenges.

He however, said they had resolved to include all the projects that failed to take off last year in the budget of the 2020/21 financial year.

“We have been facing financial challenges and in our last meeting it was decided that all the activities that failed to take off last year must be catered for in the 2020/21 budget,” Matsepe said.

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