TOP female sports administrators Matlohang Moiloa Ramoqopo and Limpho Mokhochane will face off for the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) presidency in Sunday’s elections at Avani Lesotho.
The two could be rivalled by Tlali Rampooane, the vice-president in the out-going LNOC committee, who is still to confirm his candidacy as he has also indicated his support for Ramoqopo.
He is also a nominee for the position of vice president.
Below are profiles of the candidates.
Matlohang Moiloa Ramoqopo
Ramoqopo is seeking a third term and she lists as her biggest achievement over the last four years, the fact that seven athletes met the qualifying standards to compete at last year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
She has been with LNOC since 1998 occupying different roles and became president in 2009.
“One of our biggest successes in the last four years was the performance of our athletes with seven of them meeting the qualifying standards of the Olympics and going there on merit which was a big improvement compared to previous editions of the game,” Ramoqopo said.
“Cycling is also doing well so much such that we are now ranked number 33 in the world.
“We also had the athlete Mosito Lehata who secured qualification for the 100m race for the Olympics along with our boxers.
“Looking back, I think we did a lot to educate our administrators and coaches and four of them are doing their Masters in Sports degrees in Switzerland and South Korea.”
She said LNOC was aware of unemployment challenges with 43% of the youth unemployed and therefore they were working on empowering them by engaging them in different programmes with the assistance of partners such as the Associations of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“We have been lagging behind as far as sports science is concerned so the plan is to have some of these unemployed youth enrolled in courses and exchange programmes so that they will play their part in developing the country.
“This also includes learning about organising big sporting events such as the Olympic Games so that in the future when we stage competitions in our own country we have the right people to do that.”
She stressed the importance of good performances by athletes to attract corporate sponsorship, adding they were also talking with those organisations already on board to improve their working relationship.
“We are working to get companies to sponsor athletes in particular disciplines as was the case with the long distance runners who have been having exclusive sponsorship from Motebong Village.
“What we want to see is that company being present all the way to the Olympics so that they feel that sense of ownership,” she said.
Ramoqopo said if re-elected, she would work hard to ensure LNOC evolved into a self-sufficient which did not only depend on government handouts.
“The plan is to partner with companies abroad to open a sports shop that will help us produce our own sporting attire that we can also sell.”
And she said suggestions that she had overstayed were wrong, adding the time will eventually come for her to step down but for now she is serving on the ANOCA and Confederations of Southern African National Olympic Committees where she uses her influence to open more doors for the country’s athletes and administrators as far as scholarships and training are concerned.
“It is under my leadership that we introduced term limits which means that I will step down from this position, but I’m just using the position to get into bigger sports mother bodies which will continue to benefit our country as I am closer to the decision makers and that helps to secure opportunities for our athletes and administrators.”
“I appreciate the support and the respect that I have been given by my male colleagues as I have also given them nothing but respect because I know my place as a woman. I was mentored by a lot of sports administrators and they have been really supportive throughout the years as I took over this position at a very young age,” she concluded.
The former Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) president, Mokhochane says her priority is to ensure that LNOC achieves self-sufficiency since the outgoing committee did not do enough to solicit resources to improve the standards of sports in the country.
“If you look at swimming for example, we do not have a pool that meets the international standards hence our athletes have not been able to perform in the way that we want them to in major competitions,” Mokhochane said.
“So it is very important that we have facilities that will make it easier for our athletes to hone their skills and prepare themselves for competitions.
She said it was crucial for the LNOC to wean itself of dependency on government and sustain itself, adding “that means putting a lot of systems in place to help improve the athletes reach their target especially in big competitions.”
The former LSRC president also said the outgoing committee did not do enough to take advantage of opportunities such as the Olympic Solidarity scholarship which give athletes opportunities to base in different training centres around the world.
“I think opportunities that are available to our athletes and administrators have not been explored enough especially with the big partners that work with the IOC like Coca Cola who should be convinced to invest here,” she said.
“Our goal will be to invest more on athletes to ensure that by the year 2020 we are ranked among the top five countries in Africa.
“We have work on school sports through talent identification, training of coaches and administrators in order to compete with the rest of the world,” Mokhochane said.
She said her committee would only need two terms in office to achieve what the outgoing committee failed to do in the last 16 years and she did not need to overstay to make her mark by transforming the LNOC into a big brand.
“During my time as president of LSRC I brought stability and good leadership within two terms in office.
“I believe the same can be achieved at LNOC within the same timeframe for good and I will also serve the association for two terms and hand over the reins to the others.”
Mokhochane, also a former president of the Lesotho Netball Association, noted that there is a lot that the outgoing committee failed to take advantage of especially within the global sporting mother bodies which could have gone a long way in helping improve the standards of sports in the country.
“There a lot of human resource opportunities within the Commonwealth and I think the committee was not aggressive enough in utilising the grants that are available from IOC for the associations,” said Mokhochane.
“What is also important is that the IOC has a lot of big partners that offers grants for different programmes and we need to mobilise resources in every way that we can.”
She said it accountability was also crucial to attract sponsors and gain their trust so they continued investing in sports activities.
She said they would have a strategic plan to guide them from the beginning unlike the outgoing committee whose strategic plan only came towards the end of their term.
The third nominee for the presidential position Tlali Rampooane, told the Lesotho Times the decision whether or not to contest will be finalised by his camp.
Rampooane has been part of LNOC since 2001 as a member and as vice president since 2004.
Rampooane said he still works closely with Ramoqopo as they have done for many years and would only contest if given the mandate by his colleagues in the outgoing committee.
“You do not elect yourself, but you are elected by the people,” Rampooane said.
“I felt there was no need for me to contest another position other than the vice presidency, unless the people I work with tell me otherwise including Mme Ramoqopo.
“I was nominated by Mme Ramoqopo to contest for this position. She told me to contest for the presidency because in elections any anything can happen and they can work in anyone’s favour.”
He said he had nominated her for re-election because the country had achieved a lot over the past four years under her leadership.
“We were for the first time able to host a conference for the secretary general of the Olympic association and you must know that goes through a bidding process and that does not come easily.
“Your association must first prove that they are in a position to host such a conference and I’m not even talking about other programmes where you would find that we really impressed beating a lot of African countries in the bidding process.
“So for Mme Matlohang to retain her place in the African Olympic Committee she must still be in leadership of the Olympic committee here at home in order to continue with her good work in the continental bodies.”
Rampooane also urged patience saying the LNOC had drafted a strategic plan that would prepare the athletes for future success at the Olympics where they would bring back medals.
“We have just started a development programme that will help produce quality athletes, but we have to be patient and take them through proper channels and different programmes to become complete athletes.
“We should not be ashamed because we had seven athletes at the last Olympics yet countries like Swaziland failed to have a single athlete for those games. So we are not hopeless but we just need to fine tune our programmes and place athletes in countries where they have better facilities like we did with Mosito Lehata.”
He said the country was on the right track and closing the gap with other countries because athletes like Lehata had very good rankings.
Rampooane said though he could would only confirm his candidacy by Sunday.
List of nominees:
President: Matlohang Ramoqopo, Limpho Mokhochane, Tlali Rampooane
Vice President Administration: Lebohang Khomari, Jobo Rasoko, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, Tlali Rampooane
Vice president Finance: Takatso Ramakhula, Tsepo Ntaopane, Kamohelo Hlomisi
Treasurer: Tsepiso Baholo, Reitumetsi Mone, Lebohang Khomari
Vice Secretary General: Letsatsi Ntsibolane, Makhaola Serake, Bathobile Shebe
Members: Sejanamane Maphathe, Baholo Thabang, Makhetha Mosotho, Thabo Maretlane, Bathobile Shebe, Kananelo Mohachane.