UK Team Visit Lesotho

In November 2017 some of the UK Lesotho Rugby Academy team paid a visit to check in and see how things were progressing in the Mountain Kingdom.

Our trip coincided with the Confederation of African Rugby’s regional tournament, which was being hosted by the Federation of Lesotho Rugby in Maseru. Although we missed out on Lesotho’s convincing victory over Swaziland in the first match, attended by His Majesty King Letsie III and Deputy Prime Minister, we were treated to VIP seats for their second match against Malawi.

The FLR and the Lesotho Rugby Academy have been working closely for several years now, and even share a coach: our very own Coach Roy also moonlights as the Likatola (Stallions) coach when Lesotho plays internationals. This match also marked the retirement from international games for our National Coordinator, Litsitso Motseremeli, who has been instrumental in the rugby movement in Lesotho and helped us establish the Academy programme. His swansong was another emphatic vistory which saw the Stallions promoted to CAR’s Bronze League, which will be hosted in Ghana this May.

But more rewarding than seeing our old friends carry Lesotho to victory was the young talent which has been emerging in Lesotho, in no small part thanks to the Lesotho Rugby Academy. Indeed, three of our alumni were in the national squad. We were lucky enough to spend time with the players and understand how rugby had been a positive influence in their lives. See our player profile below for further reading.

We also were able to join Coach Roy in delivering one of our sessions at a local school. As always, we were amazed at the rapport that Roy has with the kids, his ability to engage a group of 60 odd kids in serious conversations (Healthy Diets this time) for 20 minutes before the structured chaos of the training session, which provided us with a couple of photo opportunities and gave Andrew an opportunity to stretch his legs. We know that the kids keep these lessons with us – the national team Academy graduates could still quote back some of Coach Roy’s wisdom!

We also spent quite a bit of time in the office pushing forward with administrative duties. Besides some video messages for sponsors back home, we also introduced Litsitso to Google Maps, and I’m pleased to say we now have a virtual map with pins for all the schools we’ve visited. Andrew has been working away to finalise our Annual Report, which will be published shortly, and Bex put together an incredibly professional brochure for our potential partners. From my side, the trip enabled me to finalise the coaches handbook, a project that’s been the best part of two years in the making ever since we brought in a professional designer to help us with the layout. With the content finished, its back with the designer, but we’ll be taking the first batch of 100 copies over to Lesotho in February. These will be left with teachers so that they can re-run the rugby syllabus with kids in between visits from the Academy, and reinforce the key messages we deliver.

In short, a very busy but immensely rewarding trip that felt like a turning point for the Academy. With three years of results and thousands of kids graduated the programme, we’ve shown the success of our model. Our plans to scale up our programme as we go into 2018 could not be more exciting. In particular, we look forward to hosting our colleagues from Lesotho in Wales and London this May.

Thanks again to all our supporters. Whether you’ve given us your money or your time, we at the Academy and all of our kids are incredibly grateful.

Dan AylwardComment