MASERU — Professional golfer Motlalentoa Moloi fears the gulf in class between Lesotho and regional rivals could widen unless remedial measures are taken urgently.
Moloi could only watch helplessly as the Mountain Kingdom finished second from bottom at last week’s Zone VI International Amateur Golf Team Games in Botswana.
He was the coach of Lesotho’s 10-man team at the three-day championship.
Kenya broke South Africa’s stranglehold on the regional competition to win after garnering 21 points.
Lesotho achieved 6.5 points, the country’s highest total ever at the meet, but could only finish better than Mozambique.
Moloi, after watching his charges struggle in Botswana, said Lesotho was in danger of being left behind in the region’s golfing landscape.
“The countries we are competing against have improved a lot,” he told the Lesotho Times yesterday.
“The overall standard is better and that’s where I can say we are being left behind.”
Moloi attributed Lesotho’s mediocre performance at the zonal championship to poor preparations.
“The problem we had again was lack of preparation,” he said.
“Malawi only finished two points ahead of us but they camped for a month before while Tanzania spent four days in Gauteng.”
Lesotho’s team, in contrast, only arrived in Gaborone three days before the championship started and therefore missed a crucial opportunity to warm up in the preceding Botswana Open.
“We didn’t play in the Botswana Open because our players were disqualified after they missed their tee-off times,” Moloi said.
He said their plan to leave for Botswana earlier was scuttled after one of the players, Motlatsi Seitlheko, received his official selection letter late.
After that another player, Tšoari Seitlheko, had to be returned by Botswana immigration officials because he did not have a correct stamp.
“Tšoari Seitlheko was sent back at the Botswana border because he didn’t have the right stamp so he had to come back to Lesotho and then return to Botswana by taxis,” Moloi said.
Moloi said the poor travel arrangements only compounded the challenge for a team shorn of international experience.
Lesotho has not participated in the yearly Zone VI tournaments regularly, denying local amateurs the chance to hone their skills and gain crucial experience.
“The problem that we have is that we are playing after a long a long time,” Moloi said.
“My first appearance (at the Zone VI competition) was in 1998.
“Our next one was in 2001 and then in 2008. Last year we didn’t go.”
Despite the hiccups, Moloi was particularly impressed by the performance of Tsietsi Mofokeng who was rated second in the 96-man tournament’s most valuable players’ list.
Mofokeng won all his four encounters, beating Josie Mahica (Mozambique) and Wilson Kaingwe (Malawi) in the singles and coming out victorious with teammate Jonny Lin in their foursomes and better-ball matches.
“The performance was very heartening especially because the majority of the team had never played at that stage,” Moloi said.
“Motlatsi Seitlheko is the only one who had played at the Zone VI games before.”Moloi said.
Three promising players — Tlotliso Khabo, Theko Moteane and Mohau Mochebelele — were unable to join the team because of university commitments in South Africa.
“We would have liked to send an even younger and stronger team, but they are doing their first year at university so they couldn’t make it,” Moloi said.
“Next year’s tournament is in Kenya so we want to start preparing the team and organising all the things we need in order for us to compete at those games.”
Meanwhile, today Alliance Insurance will host a golf day at Maseru Golf Club.