TEAM Lesotho displayed an unsatisfactory performance having failed to go past the last 32 stage at the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Table Tennis Championship.
The championships were held in Botswana from 11 to 14 December.
All Lesotho players only managed to advance from group stage to the last 32 in both ladies and males categories. However, they couldn’t make further to the next stage as they were all booted out.
Expectations were high that the team would at least reach the semifinals following its commendable performance in the last edition of the games which was held in Lesotho in 2019.
In the 2019 competition, Lesotho won a bronze in team events in both males and women’s categories. Again a duo of Reaboka Bofelo and Matšeliso Chere settled for a bronze medal in ladies doubles.
One of the players Reitumetse Maome who was also appointed the team’s manager to Botswana event, believes despite the poor performance, the players did their best.
“The tournament was tough, we tried our best as a team. However, it was important for us to learn and gain experience.
“We got a chance to weigh our competitiveness against top countries in the region and that will know where to improve going into 2022 season. Having been able to get through the group stages, means we had potential to go further,” Maome said.
Maome also pointed out that they were aiming high at this tournament because it also served as one of the qualifiers for the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England.
During the tournament preparations, at some point the team had to stop training after the trip was cancelled on the back of lack of finances. However, Lesotho National Olympic Committee came into their rescue in the last minute and paid for the trip.
Due to limited budget the team even went to Botswana without a coach.
Maome believes that all what transpired before the trip should have been a motivation to the team to prove that they can punch over their weights despite the challenges.
“I believe the challenges we had prior to the trip could have motivated us, because honestly our association (Lesotho Table Tennis Association) pushed beyond measures to make the trip happen.
“It is true we could have trained more if there had not been the cancelation, but also it says players shouldn’t be easily demotivated by circumstances they couldn’t control,” Maome said.
Lesotho’s team was led by top-ranked player, Khethang Mothibi. Other male players were Themba Talane, Hareteke Mapeshoane and Likhetho Mothibi.
The ladies’ team comprised of Thato Mathibeli, Nthabeleng Mokeki, Reaboka Bofelo and Maome.