Youth team misses Angola flight
TEAM Lesotho’s hopes of doing well at the Africa Union Sports Council Zone Five Youth Games were dealt a heavy blow after they missed their flight to Angola on Monday.
Members of the 71-strong team only managed to fly to Angola on Tuesday and yesterday for the games that gets underway this Saturday and ending on the 16th of this month.
The team left Maseru by bus on Monday evening and were supposed to fly to Angola on Tuesday morning, but arrived late at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa and missed their flight to the Lusophone country.
This was after the team was initially denied entry into South Africa by the immigration officers as some of the athletes were below the age of 18 and needed their parents’ consent to gain entry into South Africa.
Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) public relations officer, Refiloe Maphalela said they were not aware of new arrangements at the border which required a letter signed by the sports minister and the LSRC president in order for the athletes to be allowed entry.
“Indeed, our team experienced problems in gaining entry into South Africa,” Maphalela told the Lesotho Times in an interview.
“The immigration officers demanded a letter signed by our sports minister and the LSRC president in order for the team to get entry into South Africa while the usual requirement has been just an invitation letter from the organisers of the sporting event.
“This caused a big problem and a delay to our travelling arrangements as it was already midnight.
“It was only then that managers of the travelling delegation wrote the letters and had them signed by the LSRC president and Sports minister.”
Maphalela said two teams had since left for Angola with the first batch of athletes having flown late on Tuesday and the rest yesterday morning.
He also admitted that the 71-member team left without competition attire. He however professed ignorance over claims that the delay was caused by the fact the attire was bought from a shop in Italy in a deal that would benefit a Sports ministry employee.
He said the delay was caused by the late release of funds from the ministry of sports.
“Also, none of the local suppliers were in position to provide us with the attire as soon as we needed it so we had to weigh options and get people who could deliver quickly.
“But I do not know about those reports that the attire was bought in Italy to benefit an employee at the ministry of sports.
“The only thing we know is that she recommended those suppliers in Italy because she works with a number of them in the acquisition of sporting attire,” Maphalela said, adding the claims were just rumours.
SOME members of the 71-strong Team Lesotho to the AUSC games.