TELECOMMUNICATIONS giants, Econet Telecom Lesotho, returned in style as the sponsors of the country’s premier football league which has since been rebranded to become the Econet Premier League (EPL).
They return to football eight years after making way for Vodacom Lesotho who also played their part by becoming the first million maloti sponsors.
For their part, Econet have become the first to pour M2 million sponsorship per season for the next three years and as the football fraternity, we cannot be anything but grateful to the telecommunications companies whose healthy rivalry continues to be a boon for football in the country.
Econet’s latest sponsorship deal also comes with attractive incentives that include monthly individual awards for different stakeholders including Player of the Month.
The awards will certainly incentivise all those connected with our football from players, referees and even journalists.
This can only be a good thing which will aid the growth and further development of the sport to a point where our beloved Likuena national side will no longer be the whipping boys on the continent.
These are the kind of incentives that this column and its sister column in our sister Sunday Express publication have led the way in asking for. And I salute Econet for heeding our pleas with incentives which will no doubt increase the level of competition in our league.
The ball is now in the court of the players and the Premier League Management Committee (PMLC) and it is up to them to ensure that football continues to move in the direction of excellent competition and the kind of professionalism that can only attract even more sponsorship.
Professionalism means that we will move away from the scenario where a team like Linare had only eleven players available for their league opener against Majantja on Sunday.
It is sad to see such a development particularly from Linare who have been around for more than 85 years and they and Matlama are the only teams that have never been relegated from top flight football.
Poor management has blighted Linare to the extent that they have gone over three decades without winning a major trophy.
I had hoped that after signing a few experienced players the team will compete better but I was left disappointed by their shambolic preparations which left them with just 11 players eligible to play in the opener.
Econet’s sponsorship should motivate them and other clubs towards greater professionalism as it should also motivate good behaviour in the thousands of supporters who throng the stadia to show their love for their teams.
No more must hooliganism rear its ugly head as it did last season to the extent that someone was killed in the match involving Lioli and Matlama.
The same applies to those match officials who played their part in bringing the game into disrepute.
For the sake of the beautiful game and fair play, I hope the referees and their assistants will do their work properly and shun bribes some have been known to accept to get them to influence the outcome of the matches.
This is the EPL and incidentally that is the acronym for the more famous English Premier League. I hope that ours will strive to achieve the professionalism of its more illustrious counterpart which is now the richest football league in the world.