Part­ner­ship boosts rugby for­tunes

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

THE Fed­er­a­tion of Le­sotho Rugby (FLR) has teamed-up with its for­mer pres­i­dent, Dan Ayl­ward, in pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing the sport across the coun­try.

Ayl­ward, who is now back in his na­tive Eng­land, ar­rived in Le­sotho last week along­side three friends, and im­me­di­ately re­sumed their schools pro­gramme in con­junc­tion with the FLR.

The ini­tia­tive was launched last year and saw the team vis­it­ing five schools in Tey­ateya­neng (TY) and Se­monkong.

Ayl­ward was be­hind the for­ma­tion of Le­sotho’s first rugby team, Maseru Kings, in 2011. He also helped es­tab­lish the FLR the fol­low­ing year and says his dream is to see rugby be­com­ing one of Le­sotho’s ma­jor sport­ing codes in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture.

“I am back in Le­sotho to con­tinue where I left off last year when we man­aged to hold rugby clin­ics in five pri­mary schools. This year, we are go­ing to do the same in 35 pri­mary schools across the coun­try,” Ayl­ward said.

“Last year, we vis­ited schools in TY and Se­monkong as part of this ini­tia­tive to ed­u­cate kids about rugby.

“We have part­nered with Welsh Link (a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Wales) through the Le­sotho Academy Rugby. We have man­aged to source spon­sor­ship in the United King­dom which is help­ing us to do all the trav­el­ling and train­ing across the coun­try.

“I am op­ti­mistic lo­cal com­pa­nies will come on board and see the need to in­vest and help the sport grow.

“The pro­gramme we are do­ing at the mo­ment is all about teach­ing kids the ba­sics of rugby and how a rugby player must live. Th­ese are life-skills that ev­ery sports per­son­al­ity must know and it will also help them live a clean life.”

Ayl­ward said he was touched by the way Ba­sotho have taken to rugby since the es­tab­lish­ment of the Maseru Kings four years ago. The Maseru Kings have since been re­named Gi­ants.

“I did not play rugby at the high­est level my­self, but have been in­volved in the sport for many years.

“I am touched to see how the sport is loved in this coun­try and con­tin­ues to grow,” said Ayl­ward.

“Rugby has seen such mas­sive im­prove­ment over the last two years. There are now more clubs, com­pe­ti­tions and also the na­tional team, Lika­tola.

“I would be a happy man if, in the near fu­ture, Le­sotho ends up im­port­ing rugby play­ers and then play in a pro­fes­sional setup in South Africa.”

Ayl­ward said next year, their ac­tiv­i­ties would fo­cus on high schools.

FLR sec­re­tary, Litšitso Motšeremeli, told the Le­sotho Times the on­go­ing pro­gramme had man­aged to take lo­cal rugby to an­other level.

“We very hon­oured to have some­body like Dan and his team, who are very pas­sion­ate about im­prov­ing the sport in this coun­try,” Motšeremeli said.

“It has been very dif­fi­cult to run the sport with lit­tle re­sources be­cause we got M100 000 from the Sports Com­mis­sion, which we used for our re­cent matches against Swazi­land.

“We know Dan is very pas­sion­ate about the sport and this coun­try, hence they have man­aged to fi­nance our youth de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and give lo­cal rugby a facelift.”

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