MASERU – Lesotho athletics guru, Mokete ‘Chaplin’ Mpomane, is challenging the appointment of the South Africa-based athletics mentor, Andrew Booysen, as a national team coach for the Lesotho athletes to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Tokyo Olympic Games roar into action next Friday, with Lesotho being represented by only two athletes, Khoarahlane Seutloali and ’Neheng Khatala. Lesotho’s Chef de Mission to the Tokyo Olympic Games, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, announced that the two athletes’ coach to the Olympics is Booysen.
Ntsibolane, who is also the Vice President for the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC), said they had been advised by the Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) that athletes should always go with their coach when they go to the competitions. Booysen, 52, is currently a mentor to both Seutloali and Khatala on the side of South Africa, as together the athletes compete over there from time to time, as well as Nkhabutlane Motlokoa.
But Mpomane, who used to coach Khatala before and still claims to be his coach on the Lesotho’ side, is against the appointment of Booysen as Lesotho’s coach for the two athletes to the Olympic Games. “We have a Coaches’ Commission in this country and one has to ask whether there is any document to show how a coach for our two athletes to the Olympic Games has been selected,” said Mpomane.
“If not, one has to ask what FAL’s responsibility is as the local athletics mother-body because now our athletes are going with other people. Mpomane further said: “So who is going to give us reports because LNOC will not do so.” Mpomane, who is also a member of the Berea Athletics, said they didn’t have any problem with the selection of Booysen but said their main concern is whether this was the procedure in athletics.
“We just need to know if this has been done following the procedure, because foreigners have to be declared by their countries, and if they have been offered work they must have work permits.” Mpomane said what’s also annoying was that despite the two athletes coming from his club (Berea Athletics) they, however, do not have any requisition from the FAL that they would be representing the country at the upcoming Olympic Games.
“We are not against the fact that the athletes have to represent the country, but as the athletes’ managers we haven’t got any information or communication about their representation. “FAL constitution stipulates that a national team coach shall be selected by the Coaches Commission based on behaviour, experience, discipline, level, performance and activities in the sport (FAL activities),” he said.
The constitution further states that NEC (National Executive Committee) shall have power to reasonably approve or disapprove the selection. On management of the national team, the constitution stipulates that it shall be vested on NEC while the training of athletes shall be vested on coach or coaches Mpomane said, and further indicates that only members in good standing with FAL shall be eligible for selection.
Mpomane, in this regard, said Booysen is not a member of any club in Lesotho for him to qualify for the selection as the national coach. However, FAL Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane, said Booysen deserved the selection. “He has worked very hard to assist those athletes to qualify,” said Thibinyane in an interview with Public Eye on Monday this week.
Thibinyane further said this would not be the first time a foreign coach leads a Lesotho athletics team, saying Reynaldo Salas from Cuba led it before, as a national coach. “This is not the first time this happened. We had Salas who in 2019 was a national coach for the athletics team which competed at the African Games. “Again in 2016, we also had foreign coaches who were part of the team to the Rio Olympic Games; again because there were coaches of some of our athletes who made the Lesotho athletics team to the games.”
Thibinyane said among those athletes who went to the Rio Olympic Games with their coaches was Tšepang Sello and Mosito Lehata, both with their South African and Mauritius coaches respectively. Salas, however, was at the time based in the country as one of the Cuban coaches who had been attached to Lesotho to help in the development of sports.