School of excellence heralds new era 

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Mikia Kalati

The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) is holding a weeklong School of Excellence training programme for 54 under-15 players from across the country.

The training, which ends tomorrow, is under the office of the Technical Director, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana.

According to Thotanyana, the initiative started with identifying players at district level.

“These kids are the future of our football and the plan is to see them playing for the national team in the end,” Thotanyana said.

“Not all of them will end up where we want them, but we will retain the best 33 at the end of this weeklong programme. The intention is hold regular camps whenever their schools’ schedule allows us to do so.”

Thotanyana further said they were confident the initiative could pay dividends the way it has done for countries such as Germany, which invested a lot in youth development on the road to winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“A lot of teams and countries have benefitted from similar programmes and we believe it can work out for us,” said Thotanyana.

“We had a similar group a few years ago and they achieved a lot, also qualifying the country for the first African Youth Championship in Benin in 2005.”

Players of that famous team coached by Seephephe Matete and Thotanyana included Tefo ‘Chigo’ Maipato, Bokang Mothoana, Dlomo Monaphathi, Katleho Moleko, and Motlalepula Mofolo.

The trio of Monaphathi, Moleko, Maipato alongside Mofolo ended up being signed by Orlando Pirates’ development team although they all struggled to break into the first team, while Mothoana was later signed by Tunisian side, Union Sportive Monastirienne.

“We want to put more into youth development because it is the lifeblood of our football. Only through investment in the youths can we compete with other countries,” said Thotanyana.

The programme, he added, would be held annually.

On his part, LeFA secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, announced at the same briefing that the association had hired Mohaila Letseka as their Development Officer.

“I should take this opportunity to announce our new addition who is the association’s new Development Officer and will be working hand in hand with the Technical Director especially on issues related to youth development,” Mohapi said.

Mohapi also announced that Bloemfontein Celtic Youth development coach and former Likuena captain, Lehlohonolo Seema, would be among a group of coaches  working with kids throughout this week.

The others include national under-20 team coach, Motlalepula Majoro, as well as former Likuena captain, Moitheri Ntobo.

“We have coaches from our youth teams, but the good thing about them is that they started at the bottom, just like these kids and that, in itself, will be a motivating factor.

“I must all thank the parents of the kids who have allowed them to leave their homes and join us on this programme.”

Mohapi further said the office of their technical director would be key in helping develop the local game.

“This is a learning curve for the kids, they will learn many things including how to conduct themselves both on and off the pitch. However, the goal is to have a bigger pool in order to increase the base of quality players at youth level,” said Mohapi.

“The aim is to take the players through good development stages until they reach the senior team level.”

He also said the goal is to see the group representing the country at under-23 level and hopefully qualifying the country for the Olympics.

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