Is the Ministry of sports competent?
IT IS over a year since Honourable Thomas Thabane returned as the country’s Prime Minister, which brought so much hope of a new Lesotho to Basotho.
I must say, it also brought hope for a new dispensation in the sports fraternity.
Indeed, there were signs of improvement in the first few months of the new government and for the first time the Prime Minister attended a send-off ceremony for the national soccer team ahead of last year African Nations Championship (CHAN) away match to Comoros.
It gave us hope that the new government would go an extra mile to improve the standards of sports in the country especially the lack of proper sports infrastructure that for a long time has hindered Lesotho’s progress on different platforms.
The late minister, Kabelo Mafura was immediately given the task to oversee the ministry of Sports but a lot of people questioned his appointment as they felt he was not the right person for that portfolio.
However, he hit the ground running making a good impression in his early days in office and in the process silenced all those that had questioned his appointment as the minister of sports but little did we know that he would depart this planet when we were all waiting to see his next move.
Ntate Thabane then appointed Mme Mahali Phamotse as Ntate Mafura’s successor and she too looked to be on the right track in her early days in office.
She impressed a lot of people taking time off her busy schedule to travel to Polokwane in Limpopo to support Likuena in their campaign at the regional COSAFA Cup.
She also gave each member of the team an allowance of M5 000 during a closed farewell for the team with the b Lesotho Football Association (LeFA).
We all expected her to maintain that momentum and dig deeper to change to sorry state of sports in the country but she has since gone silent. It is also disappointing that her ministry in collaboration with the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) earlier this year held the Annual Lesotho Sports Awards but after over six months now, the winners are yet to receive their prizes.
This is a shame honestly. The prizes were meant to show appreciation and motivate the athletes to continue to invest their time into their careers to see more success but it has instead demoralised them.
I do not think the ministry has done much in terms of addressing the main challenge for sports in this country which is the lack of infrastructure. I am sure the minister will be the first to attest to this.
We have several youngsters playing cricket across the country but there are no facilities to accommodate that sport. There is rugby as well and it is facing similar challenges.
It is even worse for football as the most popular sport on the land. The conditions of the football grounds which are being used by our clubs is very poor.
I can go on and on about each of the sporting codes registered with the LSRC as the sports mother body but they are all facing the same problems.
I strongly believe that a lot of countries would be willing to assist Lesotho to construct proper sports facilities including the government of China, which has been investing so much in country lately.
However, I doubt that we have the right personnel at the ministry of sports to help the minister put the ideas together in an effort to make a lasting legacy.
We can blame the minister all we want as the leader of that ministry but the truth is that we have had several individuals heading up that ministry as ministers over the years yet nothing has really changed.
This is why I am starting to think that it is time that we focus on the individuals who have been hired for their expertise in the ministries.
Both the Prime Minister and Sports minister have on several occasions acknowledged that sports can be used as a tool in the fight against poverty but that is only be possible when there are proper facilities for the youth to hone their skills.
However, like I am saying, it is also important to have the right personnel with passion for sports to drive that ministry and whoever is in that office as the minister.
Athletes are making millions through sports globally but their dreams have become possible because of the support they get through their countries which is not happening for athletes in Lesotho.
This is the reason for which I think it is now time that ministry of sports is overhauled with competent minds that can help transform sports in this country.
I think we all witnessed how some of the high ranking officials at the ministry struggled to account and answer for large amounts of monies that were said to be unaccounted for by the Public Accounts Committee after the staging of the 2013 under-20 COSAFA Cup.
I honestly think that there is a need for a shakeup at the ministry for this country to see change and transformation in sport.