Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) has announced that both men and women squads will represent Lesotho at the Rugby Africa South Region 7s tournament to be hosted in the country this weekend.
The tournament is scheduled to begin tomorrow and end on Sunday at the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Air wing ground.
The countries expected to participate in the tournament are hosts Lesotho, Botswana, Mauritius, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Eswatini.
The contest was initially set for Mauritius but the country declined the offer last year when it closed the borders due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 pandemic in some parts of the Southern African region.
The announcement was made this week during a press briefing in Maseru where FLR Secretary General (SG) LitÅ¡itso MotÅ¡eremeli indicated that the federation is however lacking in finances to make this tournament a success after being turned-down by government through the sports ministry.
â€œThe federation made a request for financial assistance from the Ministry of sports through LSRC but were told that it wonâ€™t be possible because they are still making payments of the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.
â€œIt was hard to cancel the games because countries like Mauritius, Namibia and Zimbabwe have already registered their bookings, so the tournament was postponed from the initial date of 15th to 16th, to allow us some time to make preparations,â€ MotÅ¡eremeli said.
He stated that they had to make Rugby Africa aware of the financial situation they have and asked for assistance.
â€œWhen we informed Rugby Africa about our financial situation and asked for assistance we were surprised by their reaction also as the grant that was initially allocated for the tournament, M200, 000 was withdrawn and Rugby Africa promised to only pay accommodation for all participating countries,â€ he said.
MotÅ¡eremeli showed that another challenge that the federation is facing is that team Lesotho in both men and women does not have presentable outfit for this tournament. He said the players are desperately sourcing donations for the tournament to happen.
According to MotÅ¡eremeli, the overall budget estimated to hold these games requested from the ministry is M1.4m and they are pleased that Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) as rugby league sponsor has contributed M24 000 and the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) M110 000 for the federation to prepare for the tournament. He highlighted that three courses will be facilitated to equip FLR affiliates with skills. The courses are rugby officiating, first aid and coaching courses.
Coach Morapeli Motaung for the menâ€™s team said the team is well prepared; their intention as the hosts is to compete and be the winners as they are also defending their tittle.
He however, noted that they delayed their preparations by two weeks due to heavy rains.
Meanwhile, FLR Womenâ€™s Captain Mpho Mohai, indicated that the players are working hard and are very committed to compensate for the time wasted.
The first opening games will see the hosts Lesotho play Botswana on the menâ€™s side and open against Zimbabwe on the womenâ€™s side. Women rugby team will play 6 games while men rugby team is expected to play 4 games.
FLR menâ€™s squad coached by Morapeli Motaung and Liteboho Mahase stand as follows; Bokang Ncheke, NtÅ¡ang Matee, Motheo Mokhothu, Sechaba Mokhele, Lehlohonolo Mohasi, Sekhohola Phate, Amose Motaung, Kubutu Makhakhe, Lebohang NtÅ¡inyi, Keketso Sejake, Karabo Mphaki, Paul Marie, Lebaka Lebaka and Mamello Makoanyane.