LeFA reverses AUSC teams’ withdrawal
THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has reversed its decision to withdraw its teams from the upcoming African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.
The games will be held in Maseru in December 2021.
They were initially penned in for last December but were later deferred to this year on the back of Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, LeFA withdrew its teams (Under-20 ladies and under-17 boys) from the competitions due to the Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation Ministry’s delay in releasing funds for preparations.
At the time, LeFA president Salemane Phafane said his association was not ready to send unprepared teams to the games. Doing so, would only result teams being embarrassed in their own backyard, he said.
However, LeFA has now reversed that decision. Phafane on Tuesday announced that the association had resolved to allow the teams to compete as the leadership believes that this time around the government “will do things differently”
“When the games were to be held in Lesotho last year, we withdrew our teams from those games after the ministry appeared to be dragging their feet when it was supposed to have started financing the teams’ preparations,” Phafane said.
“Based on our observation and even on the commitment of the minister (Tampane), we are positively hoping that the ministry will not drag its feet when it comes to the teams’ preparations because it is their responsibility.”
He said now that sporting activities have resumed after the January lockdown, LeFA is expecting its teams to start preparations as soon as possible.
In 2018, ahead of the games that were held in Botswana, LeFA experienced similar financing challenges and withdrew its teams. The teams were only returned to the competitions after an impassioned plea by LSRC.
“We want to start the preparations now; we won’t wait for December. The LSRC must have finances to prepare the teams. We don’t want to have the LSRC coming to us again telling we have to go to the games just for the sake of taking part,” Phafane said.
Lesotho’s Chef De Mission Caswell Moru welcomed LeFA’s decision saying the competitions were a huge opportunity for young players to showcase their talent and gain exposure.
“This is good news. We were not happy to see that players were to miss this opportunity. One of major problem in sport is the lack of development and soccer players are denied exposure at an early stage, it becomes a problem when they are needed at the senior level,” Moru said.