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Koetle deserves a second chance

by Lesotho Times
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IT’S almost three months since the new season started and Lioli have played seven matches without their star midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle.

The 25-year-old has been in trouble since last year when he was accused of refusing to undergo a doping test.

Koetle was last year meant to appear before a disciplinary hearing that was to be convened by the Lesotho National Olympic (LNCO) in its capacity as the local National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO).

The player has also been side-lined from national duty pending finalisation of the case.

The LNOC was mandated by the World Anti-Doping Agency but Lioli challenged the matter through the country’s courts and won the case to have the player back in action during the 2017/18 season.

The matter has now reached FIFA who along with the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) have instructed Lioli not to use the player this season.

I had a long conversation with NADO Testing control officer, Thabo Tšoaeli in September this year following reports of unfair treatment by Lioli on their player over the matter.

However, Tšoaeli refuted claims of foul play on the talented Lioli midfielder.

Firstly, I don’t think this is the time to point fingers but I have always felt that this matter was not properly handled by all parties involved especially NADO. This is especially considering NADO’s confession in the interview that I had with them that they have not had an educational programme with the teams and players as it should have been before the commenced with the doping tests.

I think the first step that NADO should have taken was to run an educational programme with all the Premier League teams before conducting their doping tests.

Football is still at an amateurish level in the country and also knowing that some of the players are illiterate. A bit of education would have helped so that they understand what doping is all about and the dangers that comes with it.

I’m not defending Koetle for refusing to undergo a doping test but I think the educational part was crucial and NADO failed to handle it properly.

We all know the story of Mamoroallo Tjoka, who has in recent years found herself serving suspension having failed a doping test at the High-Altitude Summer Marathon.

Tjoka is one of those, who has not made it a secret that she doesn’t not have a good educational background but unfortunately, she finds herself having to use different medications in the battle to stay fit every now and then.

This is why I think NADO needs to spend more time with the athletes especially those who don’t have good academic backgrounds.

At the same time, we also know that there are some players who abuse drugs especially marijuana (dagga) and must be careful not to put their careers into jeopardy.

Of course, Lioli were also wrong to take the matter to the country’s courts knowing that such actions are not allowed by the FIFA rules.

Like I said, this is not the time to point fingers but it is the time for all the involved parties to help the player get his career back on track.

It is also important for the players to take responsibility for their actions because they make a living from football.

Clubs must find a way of introducing life skills programmes to help their players deal with all the challenges that they face off-the field.

The use of alcohol and drugs is rife among our players and it’s time that all the stakeholders come together to help players deal with the challenges that come with the fame of being a football player.

Koetle has served his country very well over the last five years and like I had said previously, this is one player who deserves a new challenge and playing outside the country would have done his career a lot of good.

His services were badly missed by the national team in the recent games against Cape Verde as well as a double header against Uganda.

It would be sad if this country were to lose a player of his calibre so early in his career.

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