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What have we learnt from World Cup?

by Lesotho Times
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Mikia Kalati

FRANCE clinched the most prestigious football trophy, the World Cup, on Sunday.

This was only the second time that the country won the trophy after bagging it for the first time in 2008, exactly two decades ago on home soil.

Back at home, on the African continent, numerous people supported this team from the time that the tournament roared to life a month ago mainly because of the strong connection it has with the many countries.

Apart from that, over 75 percent of the side’s players have their roots in Africa and it felt as if this was just another African team at the world cup.

However, for me what matters are the lessons that Lesotho can derive from the heroics of that seemingly modesty team that has conquered world football again two decades after its previous win.

While many sympathised with France, at the back of their minds the team did not stand a chance of going all the way and they proved us wrong.

Young players like Kylian Mbappe joined legend Pele as the only other player to score in a World Cup as a teenager. Pele did this with Brazil as a 17-year-old in 1957. Mbappe is 19.

His performance was superb throughout the seven games that he played. His pace is unmatchable and the history breaking goal was sublime. Who can forget how he terrorised defenders on that right flank with pace that could leave the fastest sprinters green with envy?

The exhibition in the final in the final against Croatia who had until the final, appeared to be the comeback kings of the final was just another of the exquisite performances throughout the tournament.

The young forward also scored a brace in France’s round of 16 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Messi is arguably the greatest footballer ever lived and Mbappe, calm and composed, took Argentina to the cleaners.

This is a lesson for all coaches to plan around the young talent that is often laden in their teams. If a player is good enough, they must give him or her a chance irrespective of the age.

It is important for the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) to continue exerting more energy in youth development. Other sporting codes must also learn from the same.

I watched the Athletics Diamond League held in Rabat Morocco on 13 July 2018 as well as the athletics World Cup that was held on 14 and 15 July 2018 in London.

We must learn from the United State of America and Jamaica who have invested in young talent to take over from the likes of Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt among others. They are surely on their way out of contention for international competitions because of their advanced ages and there is need for co0ntinuity.

Equally important, I was amazed at the way that the Presidents of Croatia and France were supportive to their teams during the World Cup in Russia.

Our politicians need to understand that sports are huge business that require investment for the country to become a force on various sporting fronts. While soccer has one of the most attractive returns, all sport in general are big business and they require to be handled in that same manner.

Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki travelled to watch the World Cup in Russia being the football fanatic that he is. However, I hope he will inspire his colleagues to put more energy towards improving our sports.

They can also play a significant part at club level by supporting teams from their districts even by just attending their games as some have done in the past.

Likuena has shown a lot of improvement in recent years and can only become better if there is more support from the government.

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Lesotho’s widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. 

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