Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho last week announced an improved package for this year’s Independence Top4 tournament.
In 2013, sponsorship for the popular tournament, which traditionally involves teams that would have finished from position one to four in the Premier League the previous season, was sponsored to the tune of M300000, but the funding has now been doubled to M600 000.
There is no doubt the improved sponsorship is a big boost to Lesotho football, which has realised exponential growth over the past three years, both on and off the field of play.
It goes without saying that the sponsorship, which started in 2011, has not only helped participating clubs but also played a crucial role in the improvement of our national team, Likuena.
Previously, Likuena had become the whipping boys of the continent but have since become very competitive, if not a force to reckon with.
We always complain about lack of sponsorship in our sport, which is why I feel what Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank have done, is praiseworthy.
For Metropolitan, sponsoring sporting activities is not something new as the insurance company has partnered a number of Premier League clubs, while also financing codes such as netball.
Through their managing director, Mr Nkau Matete, Metropolitan Lesotho surely deserves a pat on the shoulder for continuing to finance sporting activities and we hope their partners, Standard Lesotho Bank, will now regularly invest in sports activities.
The Premier Soccer League Management Committee, on their part, have been doing very well for the last few years as all their major competitions, namely the Top 4, Top 8 and league, all still have corporate sponsorship. This can only mean the Committee is on the right track and should be commended for working hard and professionally, to ensure our players have something to play for every season.
Clubs such as Bantu, Lioli and Matlama, have also continued to hold fundraising activities to make sure they have monies to effectively run their operations, and such initiatives should be encouraged as they help our teams achieve their goals of turning professional soon, rather than later.
I also feel this is a wake-up call for the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) to introspect because unlike the Premier League management, the mother-body is struggling to attract sponsorship despite Likuena doing so well in recent months.
A lot has been said about Lefa’s financial problems and I don’t want to dwell too much on it, but it’s very sad that Likuena’s preparations for their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match against Kenya last month, were so poor due to lack of funds.
One could even say the football mother-body is to blame for the team’s 2-0 loss to Burkina Faso on Saturday, which meant the boys started their Nations Cup group stage campaign on the back-foot.
I mean, I have seen countries such as Kenya and Likuena’s opponents in yesterday’s qualifier, Gabon, chartering their way to the Mountain Kingdom for these important fixtures.
Gabon, who played Angola on the same day that Likuena lost to Burkina Faso, arrived in Maseru on Sunday while our boys were still on their way from the West African country and arriving a day later.
This just shows how other countries have developed and are treating football with the respect it deserves.
Football is the number one sport in the country and I still don’t understand why companies have preferred to sponsor other activities ahead of Likuena despite the national team’s outstanding performances of recent months.
This should be a question that the Lefa authorities must ask themselves every day if they are really serious about our game.