MASERU — The Lesotho Rugby Association (LRA) is teetering on the brink of collapse due to sponsorship blues which have completely grounded its operations.
The situation is so dire, association president Mohau Thakaso — who is laying the blame squarely on the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) — has described the sport as “non-existent” in the country.
Rugby was officially introduced in Lesotho in December last year but remains dormant due to lack of funds.
“There is a problem that has always confronted us, even to this day; we cannot do anything because of budget constraints,” Thakaso said.
“We can safely say there is no rugby in Lesotho.”
Thakaso said the association is unable to source sponsorship because the sports sommission is refusing to register them.
“The problem is the sports sommission only told us verbally that we are members,” Thakaso said.
“But the crucial part is potential sponsors always demand a letter of affiliation (with the LSRC) before they could engage us in any negotiations.”
Thakaso said the LSRC has frustrated them so much they are now considering the unprecedented step of directly approaching the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation.
LRA committee member, Thulo Ramakatane, corroborated Thakaso’s claims, insisting the sports commission had proved to be the biggest stumbling block.
“We are talking about something that is painful and still hurting us, as we speak,” Ramakatane said.
“At the centre of our problems is the commission because they only responded to our application verbally.”
Ramakatane reiterated the LRA was facing collapse due to lack of funds.
“There were some people who wanted to finance us but the problem is the LSRC — people can never give you their money without knowing exactly who you are and where you come from.”
LSRC chief executive Kholoang Mokalanyane, meanwhile, confirmed the LRA’s application for affiliation was yet to be processed.
Mokalanyane told the Sunday Express the association must be patient “as there are procedures to be followed before registration of any association”.
“They will get the confirmation letter soon after all registration processes are followed,” Mokalanyane said.
“We will have to verify their membership, the number of districts they are operating in and whether the association has a constitution or not.”
He said an association must operate in at least three of the country’s 10 districts to qualify for membership.
Registration woes aside, the association has, meanwhile, so far managed to train more than 30 local coaches and referees.
The training was facilitated by the Confederation of African Rugby but the acquired skills are now going to waste because of inactivity by the coaches.
The Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation’s district sports organisers have helped the association to establish teams at various schools, but these now face an uncertain future, due to inadequate funding.
“Sports organisers supported us in every way when we first established teams in primary, secondary and high schools,” Thakaso said.
“They (sports organisers) are very effective and could help us maintain the teams, if only we had funds,” he said.
But the teams might as well not exist because of lack of equipment and suitable playing fields.