Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Monday, August 20, 2018

Lioli to hold players’ awards on September 2

A time of transition at Lioli...

Econet Premier League giants Lioli will host an awards gala to honour their players on September 2 at Ka Pitseng Guest House in Teyateyaneng.

Tse Nala came second in the 2017/18 Econet Premiership season during a disappointing campaign in which they finished without a trophy for the first time since 2012.

Lioli promptly fired Morena Ramorebodi as coach at the end of the season and replaced him with Lehlohonolo Thotanyana who led the Teyateyaneng side to the league title in 2013.

Tse Nala also roped in Mosholi Mokhothu to be Thotanyana’s assistant coach. Mokhothu, of course, is the most successful coach in the club’s history having guided Lioli to championship wins in 2009, 2015 and 2016 and is a popular figure amongst the club’s fans.

Lioli started life under their new technical team on a positive note two weekends ago when they won the Alliance Winter Challenge for the first time since the pre-season tournament was introduced in 2015.

That success has raised spirits around Teyateyaneng and the club will have another occasion to celebrate at next month’s awards which will take place two weeks before the 2018/19 season gets underway.

“We organised the awards to appreciate the work done by our players last season and to also motivate them do more and keep their sprits high ahead of the upcoming season,” said Motlatsi Mofokeng, Lioli’s communications and marketing manager.

Lioli’s club awards will have six categories with the main prize being the Player of the Season accolade.

There will also be prizes for the Players’ Player of the Season, Supporters’ Player of the Season, Goalkeeper of the season, Most Improved Player, Most Disciplined Player and the club’s top goalscorer.

The players’ awards are a sequel to a supporters’ night that was held last month also at Ka Pitseng Guest House.

Those supporters’ awards honoured Lioli’s most disciplined and colourful supporter and also had a prize for the supporters’ supporter of the year.

“We want to promote unity amongst our supporters,” Mofokeng said.

“We believe the team’s success on the field is not enough to make supporters happy and be part of the Lioli family,” he added.

“We hope the awards spread a message to other supporters about the importance of being a loyal and disciplined supporter.”

Friday, August 17, 2018

Lesotho’s Afriski resort has dreams of Olympic racers

Snowland Beauty... Afriski in Butha-Buthe
Afriski in Butha-Buthe has become a hub for the country's young winter sports enthusiasts to hone their skills and maybe one day compete in the Winter Olympics.

Nestled high in the mountains of Lesotho, skiers and snowboarders from around the world rub shoulders at Africa’s leading ski resort, which is cultivating a loyal clientele despite its diminutive size and remote location.

Afriski is located 3050 metres above sea-level – just below Mahlasela Pass at 3222 metres – in the Maluti Mountains and operates in north-eastern Lesotho near the border with South Africa.

Since its opening in 2002, Afriski has also become a hub for the country’s young winter sports enthusiasts to hone their skills and maybe one day compete for gold at the Winter Olympics.

“Afriski was always a unique option as a destination,” says resort snowmaker Martin Schultz, 35, who comes from South African surfing hub Jeffreys Bay but swapped his surfboard for a snowboard to take to the slopes.

“It’s been a nice progress – nice amounts of terrain we’ve been able to open up,” he adds, wearing stylish wrap-around blue mirrored sunglasses and a lemon yellow crash helmet.

Schultz is responsible for maintaining the quality and consistency of the artificial snow on the slopes, used by the 12,000 visitors who travel to the resort in the Maluti Mountains every season.

“We use high-pressure air, high-pressure water and a certain temperature and humidity,” he says of the resort’s state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment which is used when snow is not falling naturally.

Afriski's world renowned snow slopes...
Afriski’s main kilometre-long piste is a strip of brilliant white snow between brown grassy ridges and dotted with artificial snowmakers, although, on average, its three slopes are covered with natural snow for several weeks a year.

Lesotho at the Olympics?

Both expert and novice skiers go down the pristine slope from a height of 3,222 metres (10,570 feet) to the compact alpine-style resort below. There, visitors drink Gluehwein and listen to chart music in sub-zero temperatures.

“Ready? Go!” shouts one ski instructor, from the United States, as she loads her young charge onto the lift, while more experienced snowboarders spin and flip on ramps nearby.

Schultz, who worked as a ski instructor at resorts across Europe before spending nine seasons at Afriski, hopes the resort will help the tiny kingdom one day win medals at the Winter Olympics.
Moteng Pass on the way to Afriski...
“One of Afriski’s biggest priorities is to try and expand the skiing community in Lesotho and we have kids’ programmes that generate a lot of interest from the local communities,” Schultz says of the resort which employs 240 staff, three-quarters of whom are locals.

“Some of our kids like Thabang Mabari, the son of one of the guys who works here, has been skiing for about five years and he’s brilliant. There’s a good future for kids like that,” he said.

“Hopefully in the future we can aim to get those kids to an Olympian standard so they can actually fly the Lesotho flag at the Olympics.”

Ten-year-old Thabang’s mother, Mathabang Mabari, who also works at the resort, says that he had started skiing at the age of three.

“It’s something he liked a lot. Of course it’s in his blood to compete, of all the other kids of people who work here, he was the first to ski and teach the others,” said Mabari, 36, who is from the nearby village of Moteng.

Outside, slender-framed Thabang glides down the slope with ease dressed in yellow boots, a black puffer jacket and red snow trousers.

Despite some promising youngsters, southern Africa has yet to make a mark at the Winter Olympics.

Huge potential…

South African alpine skier Sive Speelman qualified for the Sochi games in 2014 – but was blocked from attending by his own Games Committee who said he was too slow.

His dream to be his country’s first black contender in his discipline was also thwarted at this year’s tournament in South Korea and he was instead a technical assistant to South Africa’s solitary winter games participant, Connor Wilson.
South African Winter Olympian Connor Wilson trained at Afriski...
Lesotho has never put a Winter Olympian forward.

Afriski is Lesotho’s sole ski resort – the only other one in sub-Saharan Africa is Tiffindell in South Africa which has two runs and relies on artificial snow.

“Afriski has been a great help in my training. I don’t think I would have got to the Winter Olympics without them,” said Wilson, 21, who was training at Afriski for a fortnight.

“There’s huge potential here. I always join in with the (local kids’) training … they’re copying what I’m doing and they are always interested.

“One day hopefully, they will go to the Winter Olympics for Lesotho.”

Ski in Africa…

Despite its small size and relatively limited facilities, Afriski still sees itself as a destination firmly on the global winter sports circuit.

It even pays homage to its European competitors, naming its chalets after renowned ski centres like France’s “Meribel” and “Courchevel”.

French ski and snowboard instructor Thomas Frontoni, 23, said that he would recommend skiing in southern Africa to Europeans despite the relatively short piste.

“Try it – it’s always beautiful, perfect views, friendly people. Southern Africa is cheap for European guys,” said Frontoni, originally from Nice. A full-day “snowpass”, which gives access to all the pistes and lifts, costs M460 (US$34 or 29 euros).
Winter Wonderland...
"Always beautiful, perfect views, friendly people."
“It’s a small resort … but I think if a French or European skier came here they’d have a good time.

“I have seen lots of South African pupils, Argentine pupils, Canadian pupils.”

“They don’t come here because it’s a kilometre of skiing, they don’t come here because it’s massive mountains,” added Schultz. “They come here to ski in Africa, because it’s on their bucket list.”


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Econet Soccer Spectacular pre-season tournament launched

Lesotho's clubs have a new tournament to look forward to...

League sponsors Econet in association with the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) on Tuesday added a new tournament to the football colander.

The tournament will be called the Econet Soccer Spectacular and will be a curtain raiser to the 2018/19 Econet Premier League season which is set to begin on September 15.

The new pre-season showpiece will be played on Saturday, August 25 at Setsoto Stadium.

It will be contested by four Econet Premier League clubs that will be voted into the competition by the public via SMS.

The four teams will be drawn into two semi-finals with a final played later in the day.

The idea of the tournament was shared and discussed with the heads and general managers of all league clubs who gave it their collective approval. Voting via SMS began on Tuesday and will end on midnight on Wednesday, August 22.

“The principal goal behind the tournament is to help local premier league clubs with start-up financing towards their league obligations as they begin every new season,” Econet said.

For this purpose, the all gate-takings from the tournament will be shared equally amongst the 14 clubs while the public will also have a chance to win plenty of exciting prizes during voting and on tournament day.

“This initiative comes as part of very important developments that have been happening in the Econet Premier League Sponsorship Project, which are intended to help the league and local football clubs to have a solid foundation for growth and development, as promised by the sponsor, Econet,” the organisers said.

Econet CEO Dennis Plaatjies said the company hopes to launch more products and services to help the “sustainable growth and development of football in the country”.

“We are a telecommunications company and we entered into the contract with our eyes open, ready to support and develop football in our country, this is why we engaged professionals along the way so that they can help us achieve our obligation” Plaatjies said.

“The spirit behind the tournament, and all other activities that Econet are undertaking in the EPL Sponsorship Project, is to create a new conscience and purpose amongst all local stakeholders in the game of football, one of working together in unity to achieve the goals and desires we all have for growth and development of local football,” Econet said.

“In unity and acting with responsibility, we shall win.”

The action will take place on August 25...
Tournament details:
Date: Saturday, August 25
Time: Gates open at 8:00. First match kicks off at 11:00
Venue: Setsoto Stadium, Maseru
Number of matches: 3 matches in one day: two knockout matches and one final match.=
Ticket price: M20.00 per person and M10 per vehicle.

Tickets availability: Available from Monday 20 August 2018 at all Econet shops across the country. Tickets will also be sold through EcoCash. When you buy your ticket through EcoCash, you get Free Babatone Dark Data.

Distribution of raised funds: 
1) 1/3 (one third) of all gate-takings shared amongst the four competing teams as prize money, with the following ratio:
·         40% for the tournament winner
·         30% for the runner-up
·         15% each for the remaining two teams

2) 2/3 (two thirds) of all gate-takings shared equally amongst all the fourteen EPL clubs
Voting: Voting is via SMS and begins Tuesday 7 August 2018, ends Midnight on Wednesday 22 August 2018.  

Teams codes are as following:
Bantu - T01
Galaxy - T02
Kick4Life - T03
LCS - T04
LDF - T05                              
Likhopo - T06
Linare - T07                           
Lioli - T08
Liphakoe - T09                                   
LMPS - T10
Majantja - T11
Matlama - T12
Sefotha-fotha- T13
Swallows - T14

SMS voting codes are as follows:
SMS  code
Number of votes
Results for voter
You have successfully voted for “team name” 1 time.
You have successfully voted for “team name” 5 times.
You have successfully voted for “team name” 10 times.
You have successfully voted for “team name” 20 times.
You have successfully voted for “team name” 50 times.
You have successfully voted for “team name” 100 times.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Lesotho to host 2022 African Youth Games

Lesotho is set to host the 2022 African Youth Games...
Lesotho has been confirmed as the host country of the 2022 African Youth Games.

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) confirmed its approval of Lesotho’s bid at its Extraordinary General Assembly held on Tuesday the Algerian capital, Algiers.

The meeting took place before the start of the third edition of the African Youth Games which began Wednesday in Algiers and end next Friday.

The Republic of Congo was also reportedly interested in staging the 2022 event but Lesotho’s was the preferred choice of ANOCA.

The 2022 Games in Lesotho will be held in Maseru and the tentative dates are February 25 to March 6, 2022.

The slogan for Lesotho’s bid was “One Voice: One Africa: Sport Speaks”.

The 2022 Games will be the fourth edition of the event which was first held in the Moroccan capital Rabat in 2010.

Botswana’s capital Gaborone then hosted the second edition of the quadrennial Games in 2014, before Algiers this year.

The African Youth Games are for athletes aged between 14 to 18 years and their goal is to contribute to the development of African sport and the growth of Olympic values across the continent.

The Games are also expected to feature education and cultural programmes seeking to promote the arts and culture of the host country and Africa as a whole.

The awarding of the 2020 Africa Youth Games marks the first time Lesotho has been awarded an event by ANOCA with the country having never staged the senior African Games or African Youth Games before.

The 2022 African Youth Games are set to be the biggest sports event hosted by Lesotho to date.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thabane Sutu hired as Orlando City goalkeeper coach in MLS

Thabane Sutu continues his rise in America...

Former Lesotho captain Thabane Sutu has been hired as the new the goalkeeper coach of Orlando City which campaigns in America’s top-flight Major League Soccer (MLS).

Sutu was at Louisville City, which campaigns in the second division United Soccer League (USL), since it was founded in 2015.

Sutu was hired alongside Daniel Byrd to join the technical staff of new Orlando City head coach James O’Connor. Both Sutu and Byrd worked with O’Conner at Louisville City since the club’s first year. Under the stewardship of O’Connor, Byrd and Sutu, LouCity made three consecutive trips to the USL Eastern Conference Final, falling to the eventual champion twice before raising the USL Cup in 2017.

Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic welcomed the additions of Sutu and Byrd.

“Daniel and Thabane were obvious fits for the technical staff, not just because they worked well with James, but because they also had a lot of success at Louisville,” Budalic said.

“That’s been a primary focus as we prepare for the second half of the season and beyond. We’re very excited for Daniel and Thabane to join us.”

His move to Orlando City is the latest step in a distinguished football career for Sutu.

In addition to coaching LouCity’s goalkeepers, Sutu previously served as the technical director for United 1996 Futbol Club, a prominent youth programme in the US.

As a professional goalkeeper, Sutu won the Arab League title in 1995 and three straight Egyptian league titles from 1994 to 1996 with Al Ahly. Sutu also captained Lesotho from 1994 to 1997.

Orlando City is a new club in the MLS having begun playing in 2015 as an expansion team.