Fierce battle for the LAAA presidency

By Mikia Kalati

MASERU — Lesotho’s gold medal winner at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth games, Thabiso Moqhali, is confident he has what it takes to lead the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA).

Speaking with the Lesotho Times ahead of the Saturday athletics association’s presidential election, the retired marathon runner in contention to be the new president of LAAA said his main target will be the development of young  athletes who aspire to make it big in the industry and also bring stability within the body.

He along with Kenneth Hlasa and Pati Mareka are challenging the current LAAA president, Mokebe Maketela, who is eying his fourth term in office.

Moqhali and the other contenders for the LAAA presidency position have served the association in different portfolios over the years.

“I feel that the sport has been let down by poor administration and somebody has to step in and save the sinking ship of the athletics body,” Moqhali said.

He said his main concern is that little or no training is being given to those involved in the sport hence athletics continues to suffer in the country.

“We can all see that there are no initiatives to improve the structures of the sport by empowering coaches and developing young talent.

Moqhali said the future of athletics looks very dull at the moment due to the lack of proper youth structures.

“I feel a lot of our athletes could have been placed under similar programmes to that of Mosito Lehata,” said Moqhali.

The star sprinter has been in a training programme in Mauritius for the past year and competed at the World Athletics championships held in Russia after qualifying as A standard.

Lehata has also won a number of accolades regionally and at continental level over the past six months.

“There is also the kid athletics programme that should have helped to improve young athletes that we have in this country only if we had people with the vision,” he said.

Maketela who has been the president of the association since 1997 said his colleagues have urged him to stand for re-election as they still have confidence in him to lead the association accordingly.

He admitted that there has been unhappiness from some sections of the athletics community, but he is prepared to help find a solution to the problems that have been haunting the athletics body.

“I cannot turn my back on challenges facing the sport and I’m here to help find solutions and improve athletics in this country,” Maketela said.

“The biggest challenge facing the sport is lack of knowledge within our structures and I feel there is a serious need to help those in charge to understand the rules that govern the sport,” he said.

The veteran administrator admitted that a lot of infighting has rocked the sport in recent times.

“I still have some unfinished business with athletics and my intention is to work towards improving the talent that we have in this country,” said Maketela.

“There has been a lot achieved under my leadership and we have recently seen our athletes qualifying for the world championship by A standards which is a big improvement,” he said.

He said they already have programmes that will help the local athletes qualify and do well in the upcoming world athletics events such as the Commonwealth Games and next year’s youth Olympics.

Maketela said age is no longer on his side and he would like to see a proper hand over to those coming after him.

“Even if I do not retain my position I will always be here to assist those who will be leading the association.


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