Notsi’s boys deserve a pat on the back

AT last, some good news!

The country’s national Under-20 football team two weeks ago defied the odds when it qualified for the African Youth Championships to be held in Libya next year.

I want to focus on this piece of good news.

Journalists have been accused of churning out negative stories week in week out.

We are accused of being an unpatriotic lot.

And that we only write negative stories, which of course is a blue lie!

Where people have excelled we acknowledge it.

It is on this basis that I wish to extend warm congratulations to coach Leslie Notsi and his technical team for that stunning feat a fortnight ago.

They did a fantastic job and deserve a pat on the back.

We all know that Lesotho’s football had become an embarrassment on the continent.

We had almost grown used to seeing our national football team always being whipped.

As a result we had become a laughing stock on the African continent.

And we had grown used to accepting that mediocrity.

But it has taken painstaking work by a local coach to reverse the rot.

This is why we need to salute the brave efforts by Notsi and his charges.

Notsi has shown us that we do not need a “white messiah” to take us to football’s “promised land”.

While we celebrate that stunning feat there is need for caution. We mustn’t over-celebrate.

Rather we must consolidate the gains that we have achieved on the football pitch.

We must keep the squad intact and ensure it becomes the nucleus for a strong national team — strong enough to hold its own against the best on the continent in the run-up to the next Fifa World Cup in 2014.

Sport has the potential to rally the nation towards a common goal.

It has the capacity to unify a nation.

We clearly saw that across our borders during the World Cup tournament in June.

Sport can also generate thousands of jobs and help keep hordes of youths from mischief, which we have in abundance here.

If properly harnessed sport can be a multi-million maloti industry.

But those charged with running sport must have a clue on what needs to be done.

We do not need mercenaries who are in it simply for the money to run our sport.

The government through the Ministry of Sport must also play its part.

Our football playing grounds are in a shocking state.

Apart from Setsoto we have no other stadium with a modicum of international acceptability.

Our footballers are being asked to play on “potato fields”.

They do not query it.

The reason is simple — we have allowed ourselves to accept mediocre standards.

Of course sport probably lies at the bottom on the list of the government’s priorities.

The government will probably argue it needs to allocate resources to much more grave issues like the Aids pandemic, looking after the 300 000 orphans and providing food to the poor and vulnerable.

But when everything has been sorted the little change must be channelled towards sport.

It is probably the only thing that can and will unify us as a nation.

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