LESOTHO made a slow start to its campaign at the ongoing Africa Games in Rabat, Morocco with most athletes failing to rise to the occasion.
Up until yesterday, Lesotho had only managed one medal at the games which started on 16 August and are expected to end tomorrow.
Lesotho sent 28 athletes to participate in boxing, taekwondo, tennis, athletics and weightlifting.
The one medal came from multi-talented Michelle Tau who bagged a silver medal after losing to Soukaina Sahib of Morocco in the taekwondo final last week.
From there it has been series of loses for her compatriots.
I will not dwell much on athletes who have lost and will focus on the authorities.
I was pleased to notice that sports minister Mahali Phamotse is also part of the team that travelled to Rabat.
Many people have questioned her presence at the games and while I understand their frustrations given our team’s poor showing, I personally think it is good that the honourable minister now knows what it means to support an always losing team.
The team lost not because of lack of potential but it was largely let down by those who were supposed to help them prepare for the competition.
In my previous instalments of this column, I have said sports administrators must stop focusing only on the benefits that they stand to get among them travelling with the team but should instead prioritise the team. There can never be games without athletes.
For as long as I can remember, Lesotho has always had shambolic preparations for international games.
Funds are always released late and, eventually, the athletes have poor preparations. They are thrust into the deep end competing against seasoned and well-prepared athletes.
We need to start doing things differently if we want to see any changes regarding our athletes’ performance in various competitions.
That is where our honourable minister comes in. I hope the finance minister will soon be invited for one of these events so that he too knows how it feels to support a team that is destined to lose because of lack of preparations.
‘Me Mahali, you were there with this team and you have seen it for yourself and hopefully, you have learnt how important it is for our athletes to always prepare before going for such games. We need you; now more than ever, to push and see that money is always released in time for our athletes to prepare in time.
We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. That has to change. It is unfair that the athletes only have to shoulder the blame for other people’s bungling.
While it is commendable that the honourable minister has frequented various sporting events, it is not enough.
‘Me, your presence alone is not enough. We need enabling policies that can help our sports grow.
The government must put in place mechanisms that ensure that the corporate sector invests in local sports. Lesotho needs quality infrastructure.
Yes, we appreciate ‘Me Mahali’s presence at sporting events but there is need to ensure the aforementioned issues are addressed.
The country is hosting the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games next year and the Africa Youth Games two years later, so we need to do better and the honourable minister should do something.