By Mikia Kalati
MASERU — The Lesotho Football Association and the football fraternity is mourning the untimely death of football guru Bishop Molatoli who passed away on Tuesday after a short illness.
Molatoli was the founder, owner and coach of FC Likhopo who also served as the coach of the national under-17 team, Bahlabani.
He also played for the country’s most successful club Matlama in his playing days.
Molatoli passed away after a short illness which began while attending the Prime Minister’s Charity cup played at Setsoto stadium over the weekend.
“The President and National Executive Committee of the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) have learnt with great shock and dismay about the untimely death of Kefuoe Bishop Molato,” read a statement from Lefa.
“His death is a great blow and setback for football, not only in the Kingdom of Lesotho but the world over. He will be missed by the football fraternity.”
Former Lefa public relations officer, Baba Malephane, expressed shock at the news of Molatoli’s untimely death.
“The news of his passing away is very shocking and painful, but at the same time we have to accept that it is part of this journey,” Malephane said.
He described Molatoli as a football icon who played an important role in developing raw talent and also as a founder of FC Likhopo.
Malephane said Molatoli lived for nothing but football.
“He dedicated his whole life to football, he was in love with the beautiful game and would do anything for it,” Malephane said.
“He produced the core of players playing for our national teams and will always be remembered for the love he had for football,” he said.
Malephane conveyed his condolences to the family of the late football icon and the football fraternity as a whole.
“We have lost a great son of the soil. Football in our country has lost a man who has done so much for the game. May his soul rest in peace,” Malephane said.
Lesotho international and one of the country’s finest players mentored by Molatoli, Bokang Mothoana, told the Lesotho Times he could not believe that his tutor had passed on.
“To me, he was a father and more,” an emotional Mothoana said.
“Today we lost our father in Ntate Bishop Molatoli and this is the saddest news for our club Likhopo.”
Mothoana said all the players at the club were struggling to come to terms with the passing away of the man who was a father figure to many.
The gifted utility player, who has played in Tunisia, has over the years remained loyal to his beloved Likhopo in honour of Molatoli despite many offers from the local big guns.
Former Likuena coaching pair of Leslie Notsi and Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, now at United FC in the South African National First Division, also paid tribute to their erstwhile colleague.
“I was very shocked when I received the sad news and it has been a very painful day for us who have worked with him for so long,” Notsi said.
The former Likuena mentor said they were at the Orlando Pirates Mayfair training Grounds when they received the news that Molatoli had died.
“I would like to pass my condolences to the family of Molatoli and the football fraternity in Lesotho,” he said.
Notsi has benefited from the players produced by Molatoli during his years as the coach of different national teams. He said Molatoli will be remembered for his love for the game and for grooming young talent.
“Football has lost a great ambassador of the game, a passionate developer who dedicated his life to football,” said the former Lioli league-winning coach.