Leaders must start respecting sports

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Moorosi Tsiane

THE sporting community had waited with batted breath to hear Prime Minster Moeketsi Majoro’s speech last Friday when he updated the country on Covid-19 updates.

This is after the premier halted all contact sporting activities two months ago.

Given the recent decrease in Covid-19 infections, many had expected that sports would be allowed to return with spectators.

However, that was not the case as Majoro only allowed sports without any supporters.

What shocked me is that while spectators have been barred from watching sports at grounds, entertainment events have been allowed 300 spectators.

First of all, football grounds are much bigger than entertainment venues, it’s therefore, not logical that a Stadium with a capacity of 15 000 people is seen as a spreader of Covid-19 while spaces that take at most 500 people get a greenlight to host up to 300 people.

It’s baffling to say the least.

This reminded me that Lesotho’s leadership doesn’t see sport as anything beyond recreational activity. And this is happening when developed countries, those that we must be emulating, are raking in billions if not trillions of dollars from sports. Sports form significant parts of any progressive country’s economy.

Even in Lesotho, as poor and unprogressive as we are, we have several people who are surviving solely on sports.

And our government, in its wisdom or lack thereof, sees no value in allowing spectators at grounds. This is the only way for sports persons to earn a living. It appears that it has not dawned any of the decision makers that this is the survival of loads of people at stake. It also has not dawned on them that the challenge is not the pandemic but life after it.

There are multitudes of sports persons, among them footballers, whose only source of money is gate takings.

One would have thought that such decisions are made to relieve our already struggling economy but that doesn’t look like the case.

The Vodacom Premier League has 16 teams with up to 35 players and seven technical team members each. Some have more. They all depend on income from their teams. The total number of depending on income from the league is easily over 700 people.

There are obviously some teams that are not paying their players but even those are providing some sort of incentive like tuition fees for some players. But then since the teams don’t have any gate takings, that has been extremely difficult. At the end of the day, it is the players and staff who suffer.

But then again, I am not surprised. These are the same leaders who responsible for the confusion that is reigning supreme in the preparations for the upcoming African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games scheduled for this December in Maseru.

Resources for the games’ preparations have been delayed largely because of the lack of funds.

Lesotho is expecting to host athletes from nine different countries and yet none of the ministers have said anything about the event when its barely two months away.

That the games are only weeks away but the preparations have not yet started is telling. This is the same manner in which we prepare for any games and it is clear that athletes will only participate for the sake of fulfilling the fixtures and not compete.

And sadly, it is the athletes who suffer the humiliation. They shoulder the blame. Those is authority will be sitting pretty in their lofty offices while waiting to bungle again.

We are definitely going in circles if we don’t change our way of doing things.

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