With just two months to go before Lesotho has to host the African Union (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games, none of the facilities are available.
The National Stadium Setsoto is yet to be upgraded while the other facility, Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena will not be ready and available on time for the games.
Bambatha, which was earmarked to host some of the games such as soccer during the AUSC Region 5 Games, recently underwent an upgrading process.
The project was part of assistance to the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) by the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) where a number of facilities under the association were refurbished.
In a recent issue of this publication, the Sports Ministry’s Information Officer Maqalika Matsepe stated that the country was well on course with preparations for the hosting of the games saying the biggest challenge was Setsoto stadium.
“At this point renovations have not started but are soon to start. We have been in talks with the people appointed to head that and they have assured us that things will get going anytime soon,” Matsepe said then.
He added that the biggest challenge was the renovations to take place at Setsoto stadium because that is where the biggest work is to take place.
The stadium was said to be closed for renovations from 1 August 2021, however, that has not happened to date.
As though that is not enough a setback, while Matsepe had mentioned Bambatha as one of the facilities to be used for the games, LeFA’s President Advocate Salemane Phafane said the facility will not be ready by the time the games start or anytime this year.
“We have had five projects running as far as refurbishment of our premises here at Bambatha and another installation of turf at the Mohales Hoek DiFA stadium, three of these projects are nearing completion,” Phafane said.
“However, until all of them are finished and the contractor has given us the keys and left our premises, we cannot use any of those that are said to be finished. It is not permissible. I am saying this because I have learned that there are conversations about the possibility of Bambatha hosting some of the AUSC games.
“We would have loved to be part of the hosting grounds but it is not permissible to use the facility while the contractor is still on site, so we can’t do that,” he said.
The spectator seating at Bambatha ground is yet to be finished while the administration building at the football headquarters is to be demolished and rebuilt afresh.
The president stated that there has never been any form of agreement between LeFA and the Ministry for the usage of Bambatha for AUSC Games.
“I don’t remember or know of any agreement with the ministry, I would know because I sign off on everything but in short there is no such an agreement,” he said.
He said if there was any form of conversation around the matter, they would have told the ministry of the stipulation that the premises will not be available on time for the games.
Meanwhile, Phafane was shocked to learn that renovations at the Setsoto stadium had not begun saying that he was of the understanding that renovation works had already started.
“With Setsoto our expectation was that they should be nearing completion now in view of the fact that we are at the end of September and the AUSC Games are in two months,” Phafane said.
He further explained that should the stadium not be ready in time for any of the national teams’ home games it would be an embarrassment to the nation.
“If it would be the case that the stadium will not be ready on time, then it would be an embarrassment to the nation because then Likuena will have to host its games in Bloemfontein, South Africa” he explained.