LESOTHO Institutions Sports Association (LISA) president Caswell Moru says Lesotho’s national teams will remain the region’s punching bags until the country starts developing players.
Moru’s comments come on the back of Makoanyane XI and Mehalalitoe’s poor showings in the recent COSAFA Cup tournaments they participated in.
Mehalalitoe took part in the COSAFA women’s tournament and lost all their two matches to Malawi and Zambia in Group B conceding 17 goals without converting a goal.
Makoanyane XI on the other hand, were also booted out of their tournament last week after losing all three of their matches against Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively.
And Moru told the Lesotho Times on Monday that while other countries are busy developing players, Lesotho has not invested in the grassroots.
“We must get it right with the development of young talent and also governance,” Moru said.
“If we get the developmental stage right, then we will make good progress.
“We have not been developing players and surprisingly, we want to compare our teams with countries that have been developing theirs. That is absurd. Until we change, we will remain the punching bags.”
The development will only happen if there is a symbiotic relationship between the ministries of education and that of sports.
“The ministries of Education and Training and that of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation are working in silos and that makes it difficult for associations to come up with coherent programmes to develop players.
“Sport should be included in schools’ curriculum and not be played as a recreational activity after schools. We used to dominate countries like Botswana and South Africa in junior competitions but things have changed as they have worked more on their development structures and we can no longer match them.
“Our government should understand that sport is an industry which can provide jobs when taken seriously. So, we must invest more in development.”
Another challenge is the lack of exposure for local sportspersons which eventually affects their performances. For most players, their first experience playing against foreign teams is in tournaments like COSAFA and this leaves them with stage freight, he said.
“We must have national under-13, 15 and 17 leagues. We already have the C and B division leagues, so we should also have age restrictions where only under-20 players can participate in those leagues. We cannot have 24-year-olds being named best young stars when a that age, players must be at the peak of their careers.
“Players aged 17 to 20 should start being introduced to the senior teams for continuity.”
He further said, Instead of officials pointing fingers and apportioning blame on each other, energies must be channeled towards taking responsibility.
“We need to start taking responsibility. At schools you have principals saying sports are a waste of money. Of course, associations are ultimately responsible but they need the buy-in of the government and the parents.
“Our end product is poor because we don’t have proper foundations. The talent is available but we must start harnessing it early,” Moru said.