The Lesotho national womenâ€™s volleyball team, known as â€˜Bathoâ€™, encountered a challenging debut at the 2023 Womenâ€™s African Nations Volleyball Championship (WANVC) held in YaoundÃ©, Cameroon.
Participating for the first time in the tournament, the team faced tough competition and experienced a series of losses.
With a total of 12 teams competing, the tournament commenced on August 16 and concludes today, Friday. Divided into two groups, Lesotho found itself in Group B alongside Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.
Despite their determined efforts, Batho encountered difficulties throughout the tournament, losing all seven of their matches.
The teamâ€™s challenges were evident from the beginning, as they lost their opening game 3-0 against Uganda. This trend continued in their subsequent matches against Rwanda, Morocco, Burkina Faso, and Kenya, all of which ended in 3-0 losses.
As the group matches concluded, Lesotho found itself at the bottom of the table with zero points. The team then faced further setbacks, losing 3-0 to Mali in the ninth-place playoffs.
In their match against Burundi on Wednesday, they secured the 11th position with a 3-1 loss, placing them in the last position of the entire tournament.
Thabelang Leokaoke, the spokesperson for the Lesotho Volleyball Association (LVA), acknowledged the teamâ€™s challenges, particularly their lack of experience and height in comparison to other teams.
Leokaoke highlighted the mental pressure the players faced, leading to difficulties in executing basic volleyball techniques. Despite the challenging results, Leokaoke emphasised that the exposure and experience gained from the tournament are valuable for the teamâ€™s development.
Moreover, Leokaoke expressed optimism about the long-term impact of the teamâ€™s participation.
He noted that their involvement in the tournament contributes to raising national awareness about the sport and rejuvenating the spirit of volleyball among players and the community.
The Lesotho teamâ€™s participation in the WANVC was a result of their qualification through zones, according to Leokaoke.
He explained that national federations were invited based on their respective zones, with the Lesotho team participating via Zone 6 Nations Championships as qualifiers. The Lesotho team roster for the tournament included team manager Mooka Tsoeu, head coach Thabiso Maboee, assistant coach â€˜Mareitumetse Raletoane, referee Nqosa Mahao, and players Itumeleng Mareka, Mpoetsi Khoanyane, Mafonna Lehloenya, Masechaba Makhate, MatÅ¡eliso PhantÅ¡i, Moleboheng Mofolo, Moroesi Tolofi, Neo Chapole, NtÅ¡otÅ¡o Koloko, Palesa Mapota, Relebohile Mokhele, Relebohile Ndaga, Relebohile Phamotse, and Tsepiso Makhaolane