Tsibela scores academic scholarship

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Mikia Kalati

LESOTHO’S star performer at the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Manqabang Tsibela may have run barefooted in Botswana last December but her spirited efforts have earned her an academic scholarship.

Inspired by her performances and defying the odds by winning the 3 000m race at the regional games, the scholarship is funded by Kick4Life director of football Chris Bullock.

The 14-year old Thaba-Tseka born runner was among Lesotho best performers in Botswana winning three medals to take her tally to five having won two medals in the 2016 edition of the games in Angola.

Bullock, who has been in the Mountain Kingdom for five years, was already on his way to Botswana for a soccer tournament when the athlete showed her heroics and decided to meet with her management to propose a sponsorship.

The 2017 Lesotho Annual Sports Awards Junior Female Sportsperson of the Year, has now started a new journey studying at Masowe High School through the assistance of Bullock.

“I learnt of her heroics of winning the 3000m race barefooted at the AUSC Region 5 Games in Botswana through the social media,” Bullock said.

“I did not know about her background but her performance inspired me. I felt it was amazing. I’m someone who knows the background of a lot of people here (in Lesotho); what people deal with growing up having seen the background of a lot of people I know.

“I thought maybe she was probably another person who comes from a difficult background and has huge potential because she achieved something amazing even without having the right equipment.

“So, when I read about her story, I wanted to know more about her and get more information on her background. Is she struggling with school, is she struggling with school equipment? Then after that I was in Botswana and I met with her coach and the athletics manager.”

The Englishman said he then learnt that Tsibela’s parents wanted to move her from Thaba Tseka to a school in Maseru closer to proper sports facilities and infrastructure.

“I felt assisting her was the right to do for somebody who is still studying and learning her sports; has real potential and hopefully can be fully realised. That’s when I also met the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) who told me they were looking for a sponsorship for her,” he said.

Bullock said they then travelled to Thaba-Tseka on Sunday and met with the Tsibela family and pledged to bankroll her academics as well as assist with her sport’s needs. Bullock said he will also be using his other contacts to try and raise more money for the talented runner.

He said the family was very happy with the assistance.

“It was nice to meet her family as I now know more about her background. I was shown the 15km route she travelled every morning to get to school and another 15km going back walking up and down the mountains. She was doing a 30km round trip.

“The idea is to help her with school fees for every quarter, monthly allowances because she is at a boarding school. I will also help her with her sports equipment and I’m grateful that they have allowed me to help,” Bullock said.

LSRC acting chief executive officer, Mofihli Makoele told this publication that the sports mother body had already sent proposals to a few companies requesting for sponsorship on behalf of the athlete.

“We have been hunting for support for the athlete to have a good balance on her career and studies. We realised that if she continued with her studies in Thaba Tseka, her career was going to suffer.

“Because of the challenges that the family had, we looked for a sponsorship for her so that she could come and stay in Maseru to study at a school that has interest in sports.

“We wanted to get the athlete a coach who can keep a close eye on her while she is also studying. In the end we managed to her place at Masowe High School,” Makoele said.

Makoele also indicated apart from Bullock one Samuel Seboka has also pledged to provide sports equipment for the athlete.

Ntate Seboka has also showed interest to financially support her. We have since drawn a budget where one of the two men will focus on her school welfare while the other takes care of her sporting welfare which includes training equipment and when she goes for international competitions.

“We had also requested for sponsorship from the corporate world and we are happy with the positive feedback and we will continue to look for more until she is completely assisted,” Makoele said.

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