Bantu on another level

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Mikia Kalati

BANTU are hogging the limelight for all the right reasons after Sunday’s big win over bitter rivals Lioli which could hand them the league title at the end of the season.

Bantu edged the fiercely contested, thrilling encounter 2-1 to earn the precious three points and maintain their dominance over Lioli who they have beaten six times, drawn eight and only lost twice to since they won promotion back into the top flight in the 2009/10 season.

But the plaudits for the Mafeteng club go beyond their impressive performances on the pitch.

They have also been scoring off the field of play with their well-thought out marketing strategies that have been the talk of town as they seek to improve the standards of football in the country.

The club’s management embarked on a campaign to fill up Setsoto stadium for Sunday’s top of the table clash with Lioli and judging by the multitudes who turned the stadium into sea of gold and black, it is safe to say that it was mission accomplished.

The supporters also deserve credit for heeding the call and packing the stadium almost to its rafters.

And it certainly was a carnival atmosphere at Setsoto on Sunday with both sets of supporters in full voice while the players played their part with exciting end to end action.

For the past four years, administrators and the marketing team at the Mafeteng club have doing admirably well to lure sponsors and guide their side firmly on the path to professionalism.

Certainly a lot of eyebrows were raised when Bantu decided to bring prominent South African personalities to promote their football matches with some critics saying the money should have been spent on its players.

But it is becoming the global trend to spice up sporting occasions by bringing celebrities from other sectors of entertainment to boost attendances and market soccer.

And with that in mind, Bantu brought in the duo of SABC television’s soap opera stars, Cornet Mamabolo who plays the character Thibos Maputla on Skeem Saam and the vivacious Bontle Sithole who plays Busi on the Muvhango series.

Bantu is certainly the most sponsored team in the domestic league with the corporate heavyweights such as Metropolitan Lesotho, Lesotho Funeral Service and Lesotho Flower Mills all bankrolling the team.

And despite having a huge support base, the club management are clearly not resting on their laurels and every season we see them working harder to leverage even more sponsorship.

They have already brought South Africa’s football internationals and glamour club Kaizer Chiefs players Itumeleng Khune, George Lebese and George Maluleke to their gala dinner in 2014, they also have brought in popular Lesedi FM presenter Nyakallo Leine (popularly known as Ba2cada) and Dj Finzo.

Last year it was Muvhango stars Sindi Dlathu and Dingane Mokebe as well as Lesedi presenter Palo Mokoailane.

In addition, late last year, A Matso Matebele even introduced their own television programme, Bantu TV which airs every Thursday on Lesotho Television.

This should be a wake-up call to other clubs and the sports associations to follow suit as the sports sector needs a facelift and initiatives that can take it to another level.

Football has done so much to unite communities even in some of the war ravaged countries and it looks like Bantu have done the same in Mafeteng which had acquired notoriety some years ago for the killings among its famo musicians.

But it looks like the love for football and their team has become the top priority for the A Matšo Matebele family.

In the end, it remains to give props to Bantu and there’s always a reward for doing what is good.

On a different and more tragic note, I join the rest of the sporting world in conveying my condolences to the families of former Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC), Chief executive officer, Kholang Mokalanyane and former Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) public relations officer, Tšiu Monne who both passed on during the weekend.

The two had a rich history in football as Monne was also part of Matlama management for a number of years while Mokalanyane donned the blue and white colours of Tse Putsoa as a player and also worked as the LeFA CEO.

They both played their part in the development of sport and their contributions will forever be cherished.

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