LESOTHO’S under-17 football team were crowned champions of this year’s edition of the Confederation of School Sports Associations of Southern Africa (Cossasa) Ball Games held in Bulawayo Zimbabwe.
The games, which were held from last Thursday to Saturday, featured more than 800 contestants drawn from five countries namely Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana and the host nation. Running under the theme “Catch them young”, athletes competed in six sporting codes which were basketball, football, netball, volleyball, tennis and sevens rugby.
The under-17 football team got their campaign underway with a 1-0 win over Botswana before defeating Namibia and Swaziland 1-0 and 3-0 respectively.
Their goalless draw against Zimbabwe was enough to walk away with the winners’ gold medal, after a round robin system saw the hosts finishing as the runners-up.
In his remarks, Lesotho Institutes Schools Association (LISA) President, Caswell Moru, lauded the team for having done the nation proud. He said the budding young talent in the Mountain Kingdom needed to be nurtured to ensure their progression.
“Through such tournaments, we get to see the raw talent. We selected the best side that we felt would do the country proud, and they never disappointed,” Moru said.
“I will be communicating with the Lesotho Football Association to ensure there is continuity as far as these boys’ future is concerned.”
He said the under-17 team had what it took to rise through the ranks and reach the highest levels of their sport, adding that they only needed an enabling environment to reach their full potential.
“I think they can go places and I am already communicating with the coaches of the junior national teams to make sure they are aware of how talented these boys are,” said Moru.
“Unfortunately, one of the problems within our structures is that we do not have an under-15 team to help the development of young players. They jump from the under-13 team to the under-17s which is not good.
“But with this group, they have gained the necessary exposure and experience to grow with the junior national teams, and it’s very good for us as a country.”
Only three players in the team were already playing for premier league teams. These are the Matlama duo of John Mohai and Relebohile Mabone and Khubetsoana Kamele from Linare.
The squad was selected during the recent COPA COCA COLA tournament won by Tšepo High School.