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Schools clash in national football tourney

Pascalinah Kabi

 MASERU — Twelve high schools from around the country will descend on Maseru on August 20 to take part in a three-day grassroots football tournament.

The COPA Coca-Cola National Games tourney is sponsored by Lesotho Brewing Company with the sole aim of developing the game at grassroots level.

The annual tournament, which has been running since in 2004, is sponsored to the tune of M200 000 and is open to football players below the age of 17.

Winners of the tournament will walk away M35 000 richer.

The sponsors say the money should be used to develop sporting facilities at the winning school.

Surprisingly, there will be no prize money for the losing finalists and the third-placed team.

Instead the second-best and third-best teams will get silver and bronze medals respectively.

Other medal awards will be for the best player of the tournament, the top goal scorer and the best goalkeeper.

An official of the Lesotho Institute of Sports Associations (Lisa), Retselisitsoe Lephaila, said the rest of the money will be used for administrative purposes and to buy jerseys for the competing teams.

Lisa President Matloko Mafantiri told the Sunday Express the association was happy with the sponsorship.

“We are glad the Lesotho Brewing Company is recognising our efforts at developing football at grassroots level,” Mafantiri said.

He said the current wave of success being enjoyed by the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams in African junior championships was due to the hard work being done at school tournaments such as the Coca-Cola Games.

“After the inception of these national competitions, we qualified for the African Youth Championships for the first time,” Mafantiri said.

Lesotho Football Association technical director Seephephe Matete urged the schools to use the prize money to develop infrastructure at schools.

“It is a known fact that our main problem in Lesotho is that we lack good grounds,” Matete said.

Matete said Lisa must ensure that the prize money is used to develop sporting infrastructure at schools.

Lesotho Sport and Recreational Council representative Motebang Mofo said it was important for sporting bodies to conduct their affairs in a transparent manner to continue to attract sponsors.

“Many associations lose sponsors because of failing to report back to the sponsors,” Mofo said.

“I believe if you report back and there is transparency, there will be long working relationships with the sponsor,” he said.

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