BASOTHO are a sport-loving people who go to great lengths to support their athletes. Sports can unite a people and rally them towards a common cause.
The ministry of sports in Lesotho has over the years gone to great lengths to support and develop sport.
For instance, the ministry last year began giving allowances to our national team soccer players during their World Cup qualifying matches.
Our only national stadium, Setsoto Stadium, is being upgraded to meet international standards.
However, much as we can sing praises about the good that is being done by the ministry of sports, I feel there are lots of areas that still need attention.
It is disappointing that despite the nation’s massive enthusiasm in sport we still have only one stadium that has a track for athletics-related events.
Our National University of Lesotho and other tertiary institutions also do not have tracks for athletics.
This is quite disturbing.
Recently Maseru district schools had to use a make-shift track at the Agricultural College for their qualifiers because the track at Setsoto Stadium could not be used because of the ongoing renovations.
I think it is not that expensive to build a track in each of our 10 districts around the country. We do not have to make them tartan.
Permanently marked clay tracks can be made available at the districts.
Each school should have its own track even if it is not a standard 400 metre-track because of space constraints.
Light concrete markings can be used to make the marks or at least put the inner and the outer curbs of the tracks in permanent form.
Sports organisations should also be decentralised.
While each district currently has its own sports organiser the question that needs to be addressed is whether they have the correct structures to support their work.
Sports organisers should not be from one sporting discipline.
They should be assisted by coaches from all recognised sporting disciplines.
Each district should have coaches for all sporting disciplines and their activities should be co-ordinated by the sports organiser who should be answerable to the sports ministry.
We have a lot of unemployed sports coaches in Maseru and other districts. We should make use of these people to improve our sport.
When they are deployed to the districts we do not expect to see them staying in offices. Rather we want to see them at schools and clubs helping develop sports.
This is one way of identifying raw talent lying out there in the districts and brush them up to a certain level.
It is not the duty of national coaches to start imparting basic skills. The role of national coaches is to perfect skills.
Basic skills should have been taught and mastered at the school level.
The district sports organisers should also make sure that competitions are arranged locally between clubs and villages.
They are also supposed to work with school sports masters in their districts and see where they need help so as to designate coaches to them or arrange competitions among schools.
Let’s look at local football.
The Top Mount football competition is a great idea to develop the local game. However, we would achieve more if we use the competition as a means of identifying talent.
We should limit the number of premier league players involved in the tournament.
This would allow organisers to identify talent that can be nurtured to develop Lesotho’s football.
I have also seen established soccer players playing for schools where some of them never attend classes.
This act is killing our football. The desire to win at all costs hampers our national progress.
Lesotho is probably among the very few countries in the world that does not have a single sports academy.
This is affecting our performances in sports competitions.
The role of an academy cannot be overemphasised. Most countries build their stars from such places and export such talent overseas.
Athletes from academies tend to demonstrate better discipline as this has been inculcated in them at a young age.
The monies that we have spent on foreign coaches should have gone into setting up an academy.
I am not of the opinion that foreign coaches are not good but in a country like ours, it is like hiring a gardener who does not have a field to plough.
Another area that needs attention is the teaching of physical education in schools.
The Lesotho College of Education, the only teacher training college in the country, is not doing enough on this matter.
Could it be because they have limitations in terms of curriculum coverage or finance?
The National Curriculum Development Centre must develop a sports curriculum for the schools.
The content structure is inadequate in equipping these student teachers to become competent sports masters.
We need structural adjustment to give the subject more recognition.
The national university should introduce physical education as a course to produce teachers for the subject in high schools.
The government should also honour our sporting heroes.
Sport is not just recreation.
It is a business.
The government has pumped in millions of maloti into sports. It expects a handsome return in terms of results.
Athletes should demonstrate a high level of discipline and should know that they are ambassadors of this country each time they don the national colours.