The multipurpose Setsoto stadium is set to be refurbished to meet international standards with a M250 million budget that was approved by parliament on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation MGYSR spokesperson Maqalika Matsepe told Newsday Sports on Wednesday that government has approved the budget to start preparations for the upcoming African Union Sports Council (AUSC) region 5 youth games.
â€œAn amount of M250 million has been approved and set aside for the refurbishment of the venues that are to be used for the AUSC games.
â€œThe money will not be used for construction of new facilities but will go into upgrading the ones that the country already has. All the logistics will be towards Setsoto Stadium in Maseru and the Leshoboro Sports Complex in Mafeteng as well as the Machabeng Grounds in the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Roma,â€ Matsepe said.
The AUSC games were meant to be hosted last year December, however, plans and preparations were halted over the Covid-19 outbreak. The games were moreover, postponed due to financial constraints when the government diverted the funds meant for construction of venues towards the fight against the pandemic.
It was only in March this year when the MGYSR confirmed that the games would go ahead. The decision came after a year of back-and-forth which was followed by the dissolution of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) last year by the MGYSR Minister Likeleli Tampane.
Meanwhile, the news came a day after the Faderation of International Football Associations (FIFA) released a list of stadia that are not in good condition to host the international football matches. On that list Setsoto stadium is mentioned and Matsepe said that was a coincidence.
â€œI donâ€™t know if I can say the announcement by CAF and the approval of the budget by the government is a coincidence or what,â€ he said.
The stadium currently is used mostly for football matches with a capacity of approximately 20 000 while currently being the only home ground for Lesotho National Football teams in particular the senior menâ€™s team Likuena.
It was for this reason that the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) was quick to put out a statement when the list by CAF was released. In it the football governing body states that the banning of the stadium is confusing because at this point Likuena is not taking part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
â€œThe circular that had listed the names of stadia not to be used in the qualifiers was sent to those Member Associations (MAs) who have qualified to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers of which Likuena is not part. What it serves however is a wakeup call that those responsible for infrastructural development should start as early as now with the AUSC Region 5 Games to be held in Lesotho in December in mind,â€ the statement reads in part.