Africa-Press – Lesotho. Following the 3rd Africa Youth Games (AYG) held in Algiers, Algeria from the 17th-27th July, Informative Sport caught up with Team Lesotho Chef de Mission to discuss her experience from the games.
In those games, Lesotho was participating in six sporting disciplines with 16 athletes; Athletics, Beach volleyball, Boxing, Taekwondo, Tennis and Weightlifting but unfortunately there were no medals for the Mountain Kingdom team.
Ms ‘Makutloano Kheola started by giving credit to the athletes citing that even though they did not make it to the expectations of the nation she is satisfied with their performance.
She indicated that two weeks before the games they were engaged in different activities and camps in and outside the country. In these games, Lesotho only had a moment of hope when Mojela Koneshe reached the semifinal in 100m.
From the semifinals he narrowly qualified for the finals as he finished fifth. As for the rest Kheola said they we competitive even though he discovered if ever they had enough intensive training they could have performed better.
Kheola also commended that the country is still behind in terms of staging proper preparations for athletes for major events. “Even though athletes stay active on their own, but we fail to monitor and keep our athletes stay ready for a particular event,” said Kheola.
After this kind of games, Kheola disclosed that people have a tendency to mock athletes if they happen to come home empty handed. So, she believes that impose a negative impact on the athletes and they become demotivated.
On that point, Kheola said in assessing an athlete’s performance it is wise to concentrate on whether such an athletes did improve from his or her past performance or not, as that will give a better direction on how such athlete’s performance can be enhanced.
According to Kheola there is still a long way ahead as far as sports growth is concerned if all stakeholders are not on same page. She indicated that an athlete will only prosper if all the concerned stakeholders within the sport fraternity play their respective roles.
But in Lesotho she said that is not happening, the burden is shifted only to the people who are directly participating in sport. Some of the stakeholders in sport include members, athletes and officials, parents, schools the national federation, sponsors, volunteers, Board members and government.
All of this people have different roles. For example the country’s government is a key player in our sport system, in developing policy, delivering programmes, providing funding and building sporting infrastructure,” she said.
With the current situation in Lesotho with insufficient and unsatisfactory infrastructure, Kheola said that still stand a major challenge to the growth of Lesotho sport development.
On top of that, while still in Algeria, Kheola said she had chance to meet other countries sport leaders and leant how things are done in other countries.
So she learnt that in other countries sport is included in the teaching curriculums and all the sporting codes facilities are availed at the schools to give children access to variety of sports.
This she stressed it increases a certain country’s pool of competitive athletes with sporting basics they acquired at an early stages. She further cited that when the country has a large pool of players it will be able to selects the best of the best whenever national selections are made.
“If we have a good number of competitive athletes that we can take to competitions, we will be increasing our chances of winning medals.
But as for now we depend on few athletes and once they encounter injuries we are stuck,” added Kheola. In Lesotho, sport has not reached a professional level that athletes can make a living out of, voluntary system.
Kheola said for this fact people in sport are not being paid, that force them to reserve most of their time and energy in other professions out of which they can earn their survival.
The negative impact of insufficient and proper sporting infrastructure was reaffirmed by Ms Boiketlo Hanyane from Lesotho Netball Association (LNA) executive committee who is also a teacher by profession. Adding scarcity of infrastructure at schools also kills passion students have of becoming professional athletes.
“The only available play grounds are of soccer even though they are also not in good conditions and that force parents to be reluctant to allow their children to participate in such playgrounds as they fear for their children’s safety,” mentioned Hanyane.
Hanyane also indicated that negligence by sport leadership to athletes’ problems also contribute in the failure of the country’s sport. She made example with an injury she once encountered serving the national team saying no one cared about her and she was then the burden of her parents alone.
According to Molikoe Sek’hok’he from Lesotho Taekwondo Association, early financed preparations are a lasting solutions to this country. Now Lesotho is gearing up to host 2020 December African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Under 20 Youth Games and 4th edition of Africa Youth Games in 2022.
For the country to avoid disappointment on their own backyard, Sek’hok’he advised that athletes preparations start as soon as now, not wait until the last minute.