MASERU — Lesotho is planning to rebuild its national women’s soccer team.
Much like the national men’s team is being built around the Makoanyane XI side that has qualified for the Caf African Youth Championships the national women’s side is now to be reconstructed around the Under-20 side.
Lesotho’s national women’s team has not played an international match for over 18 months and in that time women’s football in the country has almost become non-existent.
But after two years in the wilderness the Under-20 team has been assembled as part of tentative steps to rebuild the game.
The young side is in camp at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena as a follow-up to a summer training camp held last December.
The team has been in training since Moshoeshoe’s Day and will continue to practise until a friendly match against South African club Kutlwanong Ladies on April 2 at Bambatha.
The Under-20 team is coached Motoboli Khampane who is assisted by Puseletso Mokhosi.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express the Women’s Football Development Committee (WFDC) president Maleshoane Mokhathi says since the side is still at a teething stage it will first challenge clubs from South Africa’s women’s league.
But women’s football still faces a lot of challenges.
“The main challenge right now is establishing what we can call the Under-20 national team,” Mokhathi says.
“The reason is we have no national championships so we have to rely on league games that are played in each district. There is no serious competition within women football.”
This, Mokhathi says, ties into the perception of women’s football as a whole.
“The other reason is turning attitudes towards women football. Women like their counterparts still have to prepare themselves in order to be competitive,” she says.
“One cannot expect a team to play well if there is a limited time and money spent on its preparations. These girls have to be afforded an opportunity to compete nationally and also in some international tournaments.”
Mokhathi says the WFDC is working to build a foundation through grassroots football to complement the Under-20 team and subsequently the national side.
Gaining exposure, she says, is also at the forefront of their plans.
“Right now the committee is looking at building through the U-15 summer training camp hosted last year. You will see that South Africa played in the last under-17 World Cup and they have achieved a lot of publicity and sponsorship. That is exactly what we desperately need,” Mokhathi says.
“The committee is trying to build a team with the limited resources it can get so as to attract sponsors. We want to package women football in the most feminine and disciplined way.”
This is all fitting as it is Women’s Month and its aims, Mokhathi says.
“In terms of our priorities for women’s football, performance is the third on our priority list. The first is discipline, secondly academic empowerment then lastly good performance,” Mokhathi says.
“We desperately need equipment and companies with whom we can co-host activities. We don’t really need liquid cash but materialistic support,” she adds.
For the Under-20 team debut match Mokhathi says Kutlwanong Ladies will provide a good test on what will be a long road.
“Kutlwanong Ladies is currently active in the SAFA women’s league, it has good players who will and can give the girls good practice. We don’t want to rush and play national teams as yet,” she says.
“We are still at a teething stage and we want the girls to learn as much as they can so that they can improve their performance,” Mokhathi says.
“We don’t want to drown the girls in an ocean; we want to allow them to swim in a secure and guided pool.”