Maseru is hosting one of the biggest sporting festivals ever, with the Southern Africa Inter Municipal Sports Association Games exploding into life this evening at Setsoto Stadium.
The Games’ publicity committee chairperson, Lintle Bless, is upbeat about the event, which is expected to attract about 10 000 visitors from outside the country.
The six-day competition ends on 25 September, and is featuring municipal teams from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and of-course Lesotho.
The teams are competing in football, netball, volleyball, lawn and table tennis, pool, darts, fishing, athletics (marathon), golf and swimming.
The fact that some grounds have been reconstructed means the Games are going to leave a lasting legacy in the country.
These revamped facilities are going to be very important for the nation in the long-term hence my thumbs-up to Maseru city for bidding to host the tournament.
In addition, businesses are going to benefit so much from the event, with hotels and lodges, said to be fully booked for the duration of the Games.
It also goes without saying that small-scale entrepreneurs such as arts and crafts, as well as street-vendors, would be benefitting from the tournament.
Other towns must follow in Maseru’s footsteps and bid for such events in future to benefit their residents, while also marketing their municipalities to the international community.
Generally, I think the country benefits a lot from such events through infrastructure-development as well as the influx of tourists.
Maseru City Council has really set the pace and the onus is now on other stakeholders to play their part.
On a different note, we had a 28-member team at the 2015 All-Africa Games, which ended yesterday in Congo-Brazzaville. Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission chief executive officer, Kholang Mokalanyane, has said they were the worst Games he has ever attended, as far as administration is concerned.
So what can stop Lesotho from bidding to host such Games if countries like the Congo took a chance and were awarded the event even if they were aware of their administrative shortcomings?
And besides, Maseru has proved capable of hosting 10 000 visitors at one go, and because events such as the All-Africa Games are spread around several towns, then Lesotho should pull off successful tournaments of this magnitude.
I am aware Lesotho will be hosting the African Union Sports Council Region V Games in 2020, and I want to believe that we will soon hear that this country is bidding for the All-Africa Games, or even the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.
Imagine the immense benefits this country will reap if it can host such big events for three weeks on the trot!
In addition to boosting Lesotho’s economy, hosting these tournaments would force us to develop the right players, which means our sporting associations would be forced to re-think their development strategies.
This, is probably the most important benefit of staging such events—ensuring our athletes get the relevant training.
I think the poor showing of our team at the just-ended All-Africa Games should be cause for concern to all-and-sundry because so much funding was poured into the event.