Who is to blame?

Sunday Express - - SPORTS -

PRE­MIER league and A divi­sion teams must demon­strate they have a sta­dium for their home matches which meets the stan­dards set by the Clubs Li­cens­ing Com­mit­tee among other re­quire­ments for them to be li­censed.

The sta­dia must have lawns and this re­quire­ment is prov­ing to be a chal­lenge for some of the poorer clubs who are now be­ing forced to play their home matches in venues such as LCS and Ratjo­mose Ground.

Con­se­quently they lose the ad­van­tage that would come from play­ing on their own turf in front of their vo­cif­er­ous sup­port­ers.

The logic of en­cour­ag­ing teams to work on their sta­dia can­not be faulted as it is aimed at en­sur­ing that teams play in in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cept­able pitches as well as pre­vent­ing un­nec­es­sary in­juries to the play­ers.

It must how­ever, be con­sid­ered against the back­ground of the state of foot­ball in the coun­try which is still at an am­a­teur level where most clubs are barely able to re­main afloat.

Most clubs do not even own their sta­dia and LCS and Ratjo­mose grounds are only de­cent play­ing venues on ac­count of the fact that they are home to gov­ern­ment-re­lated in­sti­tu­tions.

Now if the teams are strug­gling to sus­tain their oper­a­tions in terms of pay­ing play­ers’ al­lowances and meet­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive costs, then how would they be ex­pected to have any­thing left over for the con­struc­tion of play­ing grounds, let alone de­cent ones?

Should the clubs even be the ones to see to it that there are de­cent pitches which meet the re­quired stan­dards? This ques­tion is hugely sig­nif­i­cant given that clubs in many coun­tries con­sid­ered to be more ad­vanced than Le­sotho still do not have their own fa­cil­i­ties.

In some coun­tries, sta­dia are owned and main­tained by mu­nic­i­pal au­thor­i­ties and clubs only rent the fa­cil­i­ties. So here in Le­sotho, who should be in charge of sta­dia to en­sure they meet in­terna- tional stan­dards?

Should it be the clubs? Or gov­ern­ment, coun­cil au­thor­i­ties or the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (LeFA)?

To build a foot­ball pitch is not a child’s play as the ex­am­ple of English club, Arse­nal shows.

Arse­nal went from be­ing in­vin­ci­ble cham­pi­ons who com­pleted the 2003/4 English Pre­mier League sea­son unbeaten to strug­gling for top four fin­ishes as they sold their best play­ers in or­der to cater for the costs of con­struct­ing a new sta­dium of their own.

And if this is a huge chal­lenge for a well-funded club from the de­vel­oped world, then how much more will it be for a club in a strug­gling econ­omy like ours to have a de­cent sta­dium?

I am not ad­vo­cat­ing for our matches to be played on graz­ing fields but but I am say­ing that every­one knows the state of lo­cal foot­ball and it is prob­a­bly too much to ex­pect strug­gling teams who have no spon­sors to have top­notch fa­cil­i­ties.

Gov­ern­ment and specif­i­cally lo­cal gov­ern­ment should shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of build­ing sports fa­cil­i­ties.

It would be good if they could con­struct at least one ma­jor sport­ing fa­cil­ity per dis­trict be­cause the lack of in­fra­struc­ture af­fects all sport­ing codes and not just foot­ball.

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