THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA), through its president Salemane Phafane, has revealed that its Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena will soon be renovated with the financial support from FIFA through its Forward Project.
Several African countries are already reaping the rewards of the FIFA Forward Project, which was introduced by the football governing body president Gianni Infantino after he took over the reins from Sepp Blatter in 2016.
“When Infantino replaced Blatter, he launched the Forward Project,” Phafane told the media yesterday.
“The Forward Project has a couple of tiers but for today we will talk about infrastructure.
“It was just last week when a special envoy from FIFA visited us. The envoy included the director of member associations and development for Africa and the Caribbean-Veron Msengo-Omba as well as the director of the FIFA development office for COSAFA and CECAFA, David Fani.
“They came to review projects that we had told them we want to begin under the Forward Project. They have gone through our proposals and we are glad to announce to you that they have all been approved with a lot of enthusiasm by FIFA because they had vision.”
The LeFA boss said FIFA is giving funds to its member associations but each association has to go through strict processes to get such funds meant to develop soccer world-wide.
He said every association must account for every cent to continue getting funding for football development.
Breaking down the developments that will be done in Lesotho and are expected to commence as early as May 2019, Phafane told the briefing that one of the two grounds at Bambatha Tšita will be upgraded with an artificial turf that is similar to the one installed at Setsoto Stadium.
“At the headquarters here at Bambatha Tšita Sports, its six different projects and the first one is to take out the grass in one of the playing grounds and replace it with an artificial turf.
“We have learnt that it’s not easy to sustain the grass turf because of climate change. It can’t even last three matches a day but the artificial turf can sustain as many as 10 games a day.
“Once we have it, all our clubs will have access to it, of course subject to the regulations but they will have full access to Bambatha Tšita.
“The second development at Bambatha Tšita will be the installation of seats at the ground. For now, people have to watch matches while standing but soon it will be a thing of the past and we are going to develop a sitting arrangement all round.
“Of course, it will not be a sitting arrangement of an international stadium; it will remain at training facility not a national stadium.
“Thirdly also at Bambatha, it will be a gym centre. We have researched and you also know that for our teams to have proper preparations, they need a training centre.
“At the moment, we spend a lot of money to use facilities like Lehakoe as well as some in South Africa. As we speak, the national team is in Pretoria at great expense. The point I’m making here is that we have seen the need to have a gym facility for our teams and the project has been applauded by FIFA.
“The fourth one is the dressing room. You all know that there are no dressing rooms here and it was not anticipated when this facility was built many years ago. It’s part of the project and has also been approved.
“Number five is refurbishment. This facility is going to be divided into two when we refurbish it. We are going to improve everything and once it’s done the other part if going to be commercial while our teams using the other part.
“We are looking beyond the assistance from FIFA and we should be able generate our own revenue through this facility. It will be exclusively for commercial purposes. It’s going to be a huge project. The small one which might start sooner is to pave the surroundings at Bambatha Tšita.
“At the end, we would have done six projects at Bambatha Tšita,” Phafane said.
The LeFA president said the last project under infrastructure development will be the installation of an artificial turf at their Mohale’s Hoek DIFA Ground to bring the number of grounds with artificial turf to six.
The football governing body has already installed artificial turfs at Setsoto Stadium as well as at Maputsoe DIFA ground through financial support from FIFA.
Phafane also revealed that LeFA has increased annual subventions for their 10 district associations from M30 000 to M60 000 as well as providing all the registered teams from all four division teams throughout the country with two balls each.