MASERU — The mood in camp is exuberant.
The players eat, play and pray together.
They also crack jokes amongst themselves in a spirit of camaraderie.
The bond of unity is clearly on display on this beautiful Tuesday at Bambatha Tsita arena in Maseru.
Makoanyane XI went into camp last Monday.
The Under-20 national side will do battle in the do-or-die Caf Youth Championship in Libya next month.
Based on what was on display on Tuesday, Makoanyane XI players are taking their national assignment seriously.
And when the tournament roars into life on March 18, it is likely that they will not disappoint the 1.8 million Basotho who will be rooting for them back home.
“Breakfast is between 7am and 7.30am but as you can see, we do every single thing as a unit,” Makoanyane XI captain Basia Makepe tells the Lesotho Times.
The 20 players who are in camp wake up early and at 7am they meet in the dining hall for breakfast made up of two slices of bread, fried eggs, baked beans, wors, a slice of tomato and a glass of juice.
Makepe says even when their coaches are not present they continue to train on their own.
“You can see that our coaches are not yet in but they have taught us to be self-disciplined and we have mastered that now,” Makepe says.
It is clear that the Makoanyane XI management team have instilled discipline within the young players, a key ingredient if they are to realise success on the international stage in Libya.
The players follow their daily routine without being pushed.
They dress in similar attire and have uniform training bags and towels.
This unity of purpose was clearly on display as the team drove to Lehakoe Recreation Centre for their daily fitness training.
As soon as they board the bus to Lehakoe the players burst into spontaneous song and dance.
“Ke tla ngola lengolo ke le ngolle Lefa, Makoanyane o moratuoa” (I will write a letter to Lefa informing them that Makoanyane is my sweetheart), sing the players.
Even their coach Leslie Notsi appeared to enjoy the song.
They also sang songs warning their opponents in Libya not to take them lightly.
At Lehakoe Recreation Centre, their fitness trainer Mapetla was not available when they arrived and Nthaby Motjamela took over for an hour.
“We have asked them as experts to guide us on fitness training,” Notsi said before the training started.
“They are experts on physical training and our job is specifically coaching,” he said.
Notsi said Lehakoe Club had drawn up a programme for Makoanyane XI that specifically deals with fitness.
It was an intensive training, lasting an hour.
The players were however relaxed and determined to finish their first training session.
They were on electronic bicycles for about 10-20 minutes and were definitely taking this seriously judging by their endurance.
After that, they stretched their muscles and went into the hall to do shuttle training for another 20 minutes.
By the time they finished, the hall was filled with a pungent smell of human sweat.
“It is a good thing that these boys are taking this training seriously because it shows they now understand the importance of looking after their bodies as athletes,” Notsi said.
“But the problem is that most of them come from humble beginnings and looking after their bodies is not yet a priority.”
During the afternoon training, Notsi and his charges engaged in friendly banter.
They shared jokes and call each other budas (slang for a brother).
Notsi said they began assembling this team two years ago and have worked hard to ensure there is harmony between players and officials.
“They need to feel at home and be able to talk to us whenever the need arises,” he said.
Between 8 and 9pm, the players most of whom are still in school, go for compulsory study.
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