Grassroots football initiative launched
PRIMARY school pupils, aged between six and 12-years old, are set to enrol in a compulsory grassroots football development programme starting next January.
The programme, which is meant to nurture budding talent at a young age, was launched yesterday at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena. During the launch ceremony, officials from the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) Ministry of Education and Training as well as from the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to guide the operation of the programme which is fully spon- sored by FIFA.
In his remarks following the signing ceremony, LEFA First Vice-president, Khiba Mohoanyane, said the grassroots football programme was meant to groom nascent talent for the senior male and female national teams. He said the programme would create a pool of good players from which national team coaches could draw.
“The last time we saw our national team reaching its highest level in international football was during the 2000 COSAFA Cup in which Lesotho eventually lost to Zimbabwe in the finals,” said Mohoanyane, who also serves as Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission vice-president.
“Since then, positive results have not been coming our way, and it is not something we can ignore. This is why we are here today to sign this agreement.”
He said the MOU would guide the implementation of the programme, since the lack of clear development structures had been cited as one the reasons local football remained in the doldrums.
“Ever since the likes of Teele Ntšonyane, Motlatsi Maseela and Tšepo Hlojeng hung their boots, poor performances have been the order of the day in local football. So, I believe this programme will solve this perennial problem because development is key to success in every sport,” Mohoanyane said.
Ministry of Education and Training Principal Secretary, Phatsa Motšoane, said the ministry’s mandate involved encouraging children to participate in sport starting from the first six years of their lives.
“We are very happy to sign this MOU which is an important tool in developing a sporting culture,” said Motšoane.
He said the programme would be included in the curriculum of primary schools with teachers set to be equipped with the relevant skills to encourage and mentor their pupils.
“Sport is usually a very expensive endeavour, but this programme is an exception because the children can play anywhere. The programme is going to be included in the primary school curriculum starting in January 2016,” Motšoane said.
On her part, Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation Infrastructure Development Officer, Mabataung Khalane, said the football grassroots development programme would help the ministry achieve one of its primary objectives by ensuring that every child is given an opportunity to play from the early age.
“This programme does not even require expensive equipment or facilities, so I think it will achieve a great deal by ensuring that every child is given an opportunity to play from a young age,” Khalane said.
THE officials sign an MOU to guide the operations of the programme.