Partnership boosts rugby fortunes
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.”