New sports minister promises ‘new era’ 

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Mikia Kalati

Newly-appointed Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation minister, Mathibeli Mokhothu, has vowed to ensure sport is taken seriously in Lesotho by transforming it into a professional money-spinning industry.

Mokhothu (37) took oath of office on Monday this week, with the Quthing-born minister telling the Lesotho Times he was relishing the challenges that come with his new portfolio.

An avid sportsman himself, the minister said there was no reason why Lesotho continued to lag behind other nations as far as sporting success was concerned.

“I have always had a passion for sport from a very early age, and like any Mosotho boy, football was my first love,” Minister Mokhothu said.

“However, I left football for athletics when I was in high school, before focusing on taekwondo where I ended-up being tasked to train my peers.”

The minister added he was confident of “making a mark and ushering a new era” in terms of improving sport in Lesotho and also called on the sporting fraternity to help him in this mission.

“I’m somebody who believes in teamwork, which is why I am calling on every stakeholder to open up to me and help us make a difference in improving the standards of sport in our beloved country,” the minister said.

“But let me also mention that I am not that new to this department because I worked as a shadow minister to this very ministry in the previous government. I believe that experience will help me in my new journey of taking Lesotho sport to a whole new sporting level.

He further explained: “I was in the social portfolio which was overseeing a number of ministries, including that of sport. Among other things, I was always discussing the sports budget and also following our teams’ performances in big tournaments such as the Olympics as well as Africa Cup of Nations and Cosafa.

“So I have an idea of what needs to be done to ensure our sport realises its full potential, but like I mentioned, for me to succeed, we need to work together as a team with every stakeholder.”

Mokhothu, who studied at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) and National University of Lesotho (NUL), said politics has always been his passion and was a Students’ Representative Council leader at both the LCE and NUL. However, in his new role, the minister said he would channel  his energy on ensuring Lesotho becomes a respected sporting nation.

“My vision will be to see local sport turn professional because I want to see athletes being paid well and in a position to fight poverty by using their God-given talent,” said Mokhothu.

“But first of all, I need to find out why we have failed to progress over the years and I believe that will help in charting the way forward and learn from other countries which have made so much progress—a good example being South Africa.

“This is why I say my main objective will be transforming all the sporting codes we have and also introduce and improve water sports. I’m aware that lack of facilities is our main challenge, but we have to find a way to tackle this problem.”

The minister added he would soon be having meetings with various interested parties and leaders of different sporting associations to plan for the future.

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