NATIONAL under-20 ladies football team assistant coach Lire Phiri has welcomed the AUSC Region 5 Games challenge with both hands saying it will present the necessary exposure for the development of local sports.
The ladies football team will this year be part of the local team that is set to compete in the biennial youth games which start on Thursday and end on the 16th of December in Gaborone, Botswana.
Lesotho will be represented in boxing, athletics, elite athletes living with disability, volleyball and tennis.
Phiri who is also LDF Ladies football team coach said the competitions will give local female footballers exposure at a younger age for the future development of the sport.
“It is important that we start at an early age to give our players international exposure so that by the time they graduate into the senior national team, they will be in a better state,” Phiri said.
The former Likuena striker said they have been preparing hard with the team but also lamented that they have had little time with the players due to school commitments.
“The rest of the technical team along with our head coach Elizabeth Yelimala are trying all we can to get the squad in shape for the games. However, it is difficult because this is our first tournament at this level and again, we are working mostly with students so we didn’t have enough time to train with them.
“However, we are trying all we can. We have been meeting at least twice a week until in last weekend where they have been reporting for a two days camp on Friday and Saturdays,” Phiri said.
Phiri who still holds the Lesotho Premier League top goal scorer record with 30 goals (2000-01) said as a wrap up to their preparations, they have played two of the country’s top teams namely Kick4Life and LDF.
“We organised a friendly with eSwatini but unfortunately they cancelled at the eleventh hour so we played against Kick4Life where we lost 3-2 and beat LDF 2-1.
“I think the eSwatini match would have been a good test for us but we had to do with what we have and the two sides we played are the biggest in local women’s football so I think they still helped us,” Phiri said.
Phiri maintained that as much as this will be their appearance at the tournament, they are not going to be the push overs.
“I am former footballer and during my playing days I was all about winning so I still live by that principle even today. So as much as we are new comers in the tournament, we are not going to be push overs. We will have to push the girls and work hard until we reach a level where we will be satisfied as the technical team.
“I don’t want to say we will reach a certain stage because I don’t even know our opponents but what I know is that we will be there to compete,” Phiri said.
The team will leave the country on Tuesday for Botswana.