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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thabane Sutu inducted into Kentucky Youth Soccer Hall of Fame

Thabane Sutu, the newest member of the Kentucky Youth Soccer Hall of Fame...

Former Lesotho goalkeeper Thabane Sutu has been inducted into the Kentucky Youth Soccer Hall of Fame in the United States.

The Kentucky Soccer Hall of Fame is a joint project of the youth and adult soccer associations who govern soccer in Kentucky as members of the United States Soccer Federation and FIFA.

The Hall of Fame was developed in 2008 to honour the outstanding achievements of individuals positively impacting soccer in the state of Kentucky.

The Kentucky Youth Soccer association said Sutu was being inducted into its Hall of Fame for “the contributions, success and the positive impact (he) made upon the game in Kentucky”.

The purpose of Kentucky Soccer Hall of Fame is to:
·         To honour the outstanding achievements and contributions of individuals whose significant accomplishments and effect upon the sport in Kentucky merit the highest recognition
·         To promote the sport of soccer to both the soccer community and to the general public
·         To honour those who contributed to the growth of soccer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
·         To provide future generations with exemplary citizenship role models
·         To build and bring public attention to the sport of soccer

Sutu was inducted for his work with United 1996 Futbol Club and Louisville City FC.

Sutu, who captained Lesotho from 1994 to 1997, moved to the US in 1998 and in 2001 began working at United 1996 FC, a prominent youth programme in Kentucky where he eventually became technical director. In 2015, the former Likuena goalkeeper was head-hunted to join Louisville City when it was formed to campaign in the second division United Soccer League (USL). As goalkeeper coach he helped the team win the USL Cup in 2017.

Last month Sutu joined Orlando City in the top-flight Major League Soccer (MLS).

Sutu was recognised at the 2018 Hall of Fame luncheon in Lexington on August 11 along with two other inductees for this year – Nathan Love and Andrew Farrell.

The induction is the latest achievement in a long list for Sutu.

As part of his glittering playing career Sutu won the Arab League title in 1995 and three straight Egyptian league titles from 1994 to 1996 with Al Ahly.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Econet Soccer Spectacular takes centre stage on Saturday

Matlama will go into the Econet Soccer Spectacular as favourites...

The Econet Soccer Spectacular has been the talk of the town for the past two weeks and the tournament will finally take centre stage on Saturday at Setsoto Stadium.

The pre-season showpiece was launched a fortnight ago by league sponsors Econet and until Wednesday all 14 Econet Premier League vied for the tournament’s four spots through an SMS voting line.

In the end, a total of 124 919 votes came in and, ultimately, the top four teams were Majantja, Liphakoe, Matlama and Linare.

Econet Soccer Spectacular Voting Results:
1) Liphakoe
2) Linare
3) Majantja
4) Matlama
5) LCS
6) Lioli
7) Bantu
8) Kick4Life
9) Sefotha-fotha
10) Swallows
11) LMPS
12) Likhopo
13) Galaxy
14) LDF
20 178
19 297
18 715
18 151
14 091
12 640
12 882

The draw for the tournament was made on Thursday.

Majantja will face Matlama in the first-ever Econet Soccer Spectacular game before Liphakoe go up against Linare in the second semi-final.

The semi-final winners will then face-off in the final later in the day.

Tickets for the Econet Soccer Spectacular went on sale on Monday at all Econet shops across the country and the first of its kind pre-season tournament has excited fans since its launch.

The anticipation only grew throughout the two-week voting process.

When the voting results were announced on Wednesday it was a shock that the country’s two leading clubs, Bantu and Lioli, couldn’t garner enough votes to qualify for the Econet Soccer Spectacular.

Bantu and Lioli’s absence, however, gives a chance for other sides to enjoy the spotlight.

Matlama, fourth-place finishers in last season’s Econet Premier League season, will go into the tournament as favourites. Tse Putsoa, however, won’t be the same side with Mosito Matela gone as coach despite a stellar campaign that included an LNIG Top 8 title and Thabile Secker is now in charge.
The calm before the storm...
Setsoto Stadium will be the place to be on Saturday
The three other contestants are popular clubs in their own right and are the pride of their respective districts – Linare for Leribe, Majantja for Mohale’s Hoek and Liphakoe for Quthing.

Indeed, the tournament has a north versus south feel to it with Maseru and Leribe going up against the southern districts Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing.

On Saturday the fans of Matlama, Linare, Majantja and Liphakoe will have a chance to revel in the sun at what, hopefully, will be a packed Setsoto Stadium.

Econet Soccer Spectacular:
Majantja v Matlama – 11:00
Liphakoe v Linare – 13:00

Distribution of funds raised: 
§  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
§  2/3 (two thirds) of all gate-takings shared equally amongst all the fourteen league clubs

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.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho riders chase dreams in Switzerland

Another one in the bag...
Tumelo Makae celebrates winning the Nedbank Lesotho XC MTB Series two weeks ago

Lesotho’s Tumelo Makae and Bakang ‘BK’ Matshidiso Ebudilwe of Botswana are chasing their dreams at the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Aigle, Switzerland.

The two mountain bike cyclists are part of the ACE-The Sufferfest Lesotho MTB Team and they left for Europe in March on a two-year Olympic Solidarity scholarship.

After just five months, their progress has been staggering.

Makae and Ebudilwe are fitter, stronger and – above all – technically superior, and at the beginning of this month both flew home and easily won their respective national mountain bike championships.

The two athletes are now back at the UCI WCC and this weekend they will tackle their first-ever UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, in La Bresse, France.

The events starts on Friday and ends on Sunday.

Thanks to the UCI points they won at their respective national races Makae and Ebudilwe will have better places on the starting grid, a significant bonus as they try to gain points towards Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification.

UCI WCC coach Charlie Evans says both cyclists have made significant progress.

Both Makae and Ebudilwe, he said, arrived in Switzerland with few technical skills but enormous potential.

Initially they were unable to lift their wheels independently or bunny-hop on the bike but, in a short space of time, they have acquired the required skills to match up to international competition.

“I have been teaching them to be brave, technically good and assertive,” Evans says. “They need to be able to apply technical skills in race conditions. It’s one thing to manage it alone in training but another to pull it off in stressful race conditions when they are already very tired.”

The two athletes are gaining that valuable race experience at different rounds of the high-level Swiss Cup.

“At each race they are stepping forward and I hope their national titles will give them the boost they need,” Evans says.

“We’re still in development stage and we will treat La Bresse as a training camp going into Lenzerheide (UCI Mountain Bike World Championships one week later).

“We will set process goals rather than outcome goals, for example to beat the track rather than other riders, and to do even lap times.”

Tumelo Makae (left) and ACE teammate Bakang Ebudilwe
Last year Makae won the Lesotho National Championships in 2017. This year, he took victory at the Nedbank Lesotho XC MTB Series by an even bigger gap, despite a crash which made him wonder if he had blown his chances.

“After the third lap, I decided to attack,” Makae says. “When I crashed I thought it was the end of my race, but it wasn’t.”

In 2017, the 21 year-old Makae won silver in the men’s Under-23 race at the African Continental Mountain Bike Championships in Mauritius.

Makae also competed in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April, finishing 19th, one lap behind the winners: “It was a good experience racing against world class riders,” says the young rider who will turn 22 on Friday.

“Since I have been at the World Cycling Centre, I have progressed physically and technically. I am better than before,” Makae says.

“Here we are not disturbed by outside things. We just train. I really enjoy it. I never did gym work at home and that has helped me. But I what I love most is going on the trails.”

In the words of Makae’s coach: “Compared to BK, Makae is more of a ‘bring it on’ rider who likes nothing more than to race and is very competitive. He never gives up and stays in race mode right to the finish line. He has responded extremely well to core skills since training at the UCI World Cycling Centre.”

After the UCI World Championships the duo’s Olympic campaign will continue. The next major goal will be the African Continental MTB Championships next year in Namibia where Makae and Ebudilwe will be able to earn more qualification points on their road to Tokyo 2020.

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.