Huge task awaits Sports Min­is­ter

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

GEN­DER, Youth, Sport and Recre­ation min­is­ter kabelo Ma­fura’s ap­point­ment was re­ceived with mixed emo­tions by the sports fra­ter­nity with the ma­jor­ity of the view that he was not the right per­son for the min­istry that has faced sev­eral chal­lenges over the years.

Ma­fura was ap­pointed in the af­ter­math of last month’s snap elec­tions which ush­ered in a four party coali­tion gov­ern­ment headed by All Basotho Con­ven­tion leader Thomas Tha­bane. The other coali­tion part­ners are the al­liance for Democrats, the Basotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho.

Many had ex­pected to see the re­turn of BNP leader, Morena Th­e­sele Maserib­ane who presided over the min­istry dur­ing Dr Tha­bane’s first ten­ure as premier from 2012 to 2015 but the premier had other ideas and gave the re­spon­si­bil­ity to Mr Ma­fura.

To his credit, the min­is­ter did not waste any time and af­ter just two days in of­fice, he graced the last month’s send-off cer­e­mony for the se­nior na­tional foot­ball side ahead of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the re­gional COSAFA Cup tour­na­ment in Rusten­burg, South Africa.

He went a step fur­ther by avail­ing M50 000 to sup­port of the team.

It was a ges­ture which gave a lot of peo­ple hope that there was more to come from the min­is­ter and helped si­lence his crit­ics who had writ­ten him off be­fore he had even started his new job.

I un­der­stood the neg­a­tiv­ity be­cause this is one min­istry that has failed to per­form to ex­pec­ta­tions for many years.

It has failed to pro­vide sup­port for the de­vel­op­ment of sport.

Given this back­ground, the new min­is­ter has his work cut out for him and it will take more than grac­ing sport­ing events and to­ken fi­nan­cial ges­tures to suc­ceed in his man­date.

This coun­try is in des­per­ate need of sports in­fra­struc­ture that matches in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

The tal­ent is there but ath­letes do not have the right fa­cil­i­ties to hone and im­prove their skills.

We are all look­ing to Ntate Tha­bane and his gov­ern­ment for pos­i­tive change be­cause sports de­vel­op­ment has never been a pri­or­ity for gov­ern­ments.

The min­is­ter will do well to out­line his vi­sion for trans­form­ing sports de­vel­op­ment be­cause this will not only set the agenda for ac­tion but also help en­gen­der a sense of con­fi­dence that fi­nally some­thing is about to be and will be done.

This coun­try’s sports prob­lems are well doc­u­mented and it is up to Mr Ma­fura to make a mark and be counted among he­roes of the so­ci­ety that is so pas­sion­ate about sports.

Since last month, ath­letes from around the world have been busy com­pet­ing in the in­ter­na­tional ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Fed­er­a­tion (IAAF) Di­a­mond League Se­ries in prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don.

I was par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­pointed that in all the races Le­sotho was not rep­re­sented.

This is partly down to the lack of funds and the ap­a­thy on the part of sports ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Mr Ma­fura must throw his weight around be­cause i re­ally feel that our ad­min­is­tra­tors are plainly lazy to find spon­sors to send our ath­letes to such com­pe­ti­tions.

Our na­tional team’s strug­gles to reach the COSAFA Cup fi­nal was a plain re­minder of just how far be­hind we are to the likes of Zam­bia and Zim­babwe.

Likuena coach Moses Maliehe took his tried and tested play­ers but still we could not get past the Zim­bab­wean squad deemed as the ‘B’ team.

That shows that the min­is­ter must push the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (LEFA) harder to de­velop young tal­ent.

The fact that Mr Ma­fura has been so sup­port­ive to the ex­tent of go­ing to Rusten­burg to watch Likuena’s semi-fi­nal clash with Zim­babwe proves that he wants change and is will­ing to help when­ever he is needed.

The min­is­ter re­cently also man­aged to bring along the Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane for Likuena’s send-off for their week­end clash with the Co­moros.

While it is very good for the play­ers to have the sup­port of the premier and his sports min­is­ter, I wish to re­mind both lead­ers that to con­vince Basotho, they need to do more than just at­tend send-off cer­e­monies.

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