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Spare a thought for the supporters

by Lesotho Times
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Mikia Kalati

THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) will hold its presidential elections on 16 September this year and Salemane Phafane is seeking a third term at the helm of football’s governing body.

Phafane’s intentions have attracted a lot of attention especially on social media platforms where football fans are airing their views regarding how LeFA should operate.

Some are of the opinion that given LeFA’s perennial struggles to attract sponsors as well as the poor performances of the national team, Ntate Phafane should not stand for re-election but make way for fresh ideas.

Such are LeFA’s struggles that fans are even raising funds to host awards to motivate the players.

This is not the first time supporters have called for a change of leadership at LeFA. Back in 2013, supporters and some football legends handed a petition to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane protesting poor administration of the sport in the country.

I think those who occupy leadership positions in different institutions must understand they are not there for self-interest but they are there for the sake of the nation.

Ntate Phafane has been in charge since 2004 when he succeeded the late Thabo Makakole who died in a car accident.

That is 13 years and more than long enough for him to have implemented whatever ideas he had in mind.

There are a lot of successes and failures that he can point to during his time as the LeFA boss and he must make peace with the fact that at some point he will have to make way for others.

Leaders everywhere must always heed the voice of the masses who give them mandates and in the case of the LeFA, it is not a secret that people have been calling for a change.

LeFA and the national teams’ struggles to attract sponsorship is one of the many things that Ntate Phafane should consider and maybe change might work wonders for the association.

I find it a sad development that the A Division has gone for four years without sponsors.

Our sports leaders need to ask themselves why companies are more than happy to work with clubs instead of national federations.

Our senior national football team, Likuena has repeatedly failed to reach the final of the regional COSAFA Cup since doing so under the leadership of the late Makakole in 2000.

The best that the team has managed are two semi-finals in the 2013 and 2017 editions.

As for the other competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers, it has been a disaster and apart from poor performances, Likuena has always been marred allowance rows with the association before important games.

The national under-20 side Makoanyane XI also reached the final of the regional youth competition in 2003 but have struggled to reach the same standards.

They say a new broom sweeps clean and Ntate Phafane even recently applauded the new government led by Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane for the support they have given to LeFA because it is something they never got from the previous regime.

This came after Dr Thabane and a high powered government delegation graced Likuena’s send-off ceremony ahead of their African Nations Championship qualifier against Comoros last month.

In his speech during the ceremony, the LeFA president described the occasion a historic moment, saying it was the first time in his many years in football administration that a prime minister had attended the national team’s send-off ceremony.

These are some of the many things that come with change.

It is not a secret that the previous government came in for caustic criticism from various sporting associations in the country for allegedly paying lip service to the development of sport by extending measly budgetary allocations which were often disbursed late to the beneficiaries.

My message is not only for the LeFA president, but all members of different associations who have served many terms of office.

They should take a leaf from the sports mother body, the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission where a president can only serve two terms in office and make way for others to come up with new policies.

The poor performances of our teams and athletes in major international competitions such as the recent World Championships in London, Likuena being booted out of CHAN by Comoros, as well as last year’s Olympic Games in Brazil all point out to the fact that all is not well as far as sports are concerned in this country.

We seriously need to go back to the drawing board and our sports administrators need to self-introspect and decide whether they are still the right people to lead.


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