Lesotho punched above its weight in AUSC Games

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Moorosi Tsiane

 

WHEN the curtain finally came down on the Africa Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games on 12 December 2021, Lesotho finished third on the medals table.

All in all, the host nation had impressive haul of 52 medals.

Of these, 18 gold, 17 silver and 17 bronze medals. Lesotho won gold in the girls’ volleyball, taekwondo, athletics for visually impaired and athletics.

This was an impressive haul considering that Lesotho was up against nine countries such as Botswana, Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and eSwatini.

I therefore take this opportunity to heartily congratulate all our athletes who won medals. In all honesty, not many of us expected them to do this well, considering the shambolic preparations before the start of the games.

I was one of the sceptics who did not expect any good to come out of our teams. I even thought it would be best to withdraw certain sporting codes from the games to spare the country of the likely embarrassment. But I’m glad that I was proved wrong.

Even when the games got underway, our incompetence, which we seemed to have turned into a national pastime was on show. The travelling arrangements and the games schedules were chaotic. But this did not dampen the spirits of the athletes who gave their all.

The team certainly punched above its weight and surprised us. I was fortunate enough to watch most of the games and I was impressed by the dedication shown by our athletes.

Our third-place finish clearly shows that we have the talent and it just needs to be nurtured.

They are those who did not perform well but who can blame them when they were not given the necessary preparations to enable them to deliver top class performances.

Ours is one of the poorest countries in the region with a high unemployment rate. If we made sport a priority with all the necessary support, who knows it could actually contribute meaningfully to improved lifestyles and boost the economy. This is not a far-fetched dream as we have seen the positive impact of sport in countries that actually invest in it like Kenya, Jamaica and Ethiopia among others.

I hope that our politicians have learnt something from the gallant efforts of our athletes at the games and they will start to look at sport in a new light.

Throughout all the divisions and conflict among political lines, sport has remained the one unifying factor among Basotho.

The support and the love Basotho showed, especially to the volleyball teams, which the boys team lost in the semifinals, while the girls went all out to win the gold, was simply amazing. The nation was really united, sending out positive and encouraging messages to athletes.

This is the power of sport and it needs to be nurtured and harnessed for the good of the country.

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