Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) will host its annual Winter Tournament this weekend at the Lehakoe Recreational Centre in Maseru following a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions which had suspended contact sports since early 2020.
So far, 17 teams have registered – six women’s teams and 11 men’s. According to the association’s Public Relations Officer, Hopolang Hoala, this year’s edition will be much of a preparation for the 2022 National Basketball League (NBL) set to return next month.
Hoala said the LBA has so far managed to secure one sponsor for the tournament as most of the companies they have worked with in the past editions of the tournament are still recovering from the Covid-19 aftermath.
The last time LBA hosted the tournament in 2019, it had two sponsors which were SIMA Communications and Big Mama Food with each providing the services they specialise in as sponsorship.
The Winter Tournament is also a chance for the LBA to show a united front.
Over the last year, there had been some issues in the basketball sport to a point where another league styled the Major League Basketball (MLB), was formed by some of the LBA member clubs.
Founders of the MLB said they had decided to come up with a private league from the NBL having realised that the LBA was not pushing hard enough to have the game return following the uplifting of the ban on contact sports due to Covid-19.
As a result, the LBA had warned its members against participating in the league or risk being banned from the association, however, the MLB did play to completion.
Hoala said this weekend’s tournament is meant to reassure basketball followers of the stability of the league in the aftermath of the previous chaos experienced.
“The tournament serves as a right activity to prepare the players and the fans for the upcoming league season,” he said.
Hoala said the LBA wants to bring basketball followers together again and to revive the spirit, competitiveness and oneness in the sport in order to make sure the problems of the past year do not come up again in future.
Hoala stated that all spectators, players and administrators coming to watch the two-day tournament are expected to have vaccination cards with them as stipulation by the management of Lehakoe.
Lerotholi Polytechnic are the defending winter tournament winners.