By: Nothembabane Qechane

The Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR), the rugby governing body in Lesotho and also a member of LSRC, held a press conference at the LSRC Board Room in Maseru on the 22nd February 2024. This was about the launch of the Econet Rugby League, to be started at the end of this week and to introduce ETL as the official sponsor of the Econet Rugby League to the media fraternity. The Federation of Lesotho Rugby together with Econet Telecom Lesotho appointed Mahlomola Letsie as the new Econet Rugby League director.

According to the president of the Econet Rugby League, Mr Fetang Selialia, ETL started sponsoring their team from 2012, and since they get sponsored they do not face any struggle with his team compared to some years they were not sponsored where they faced difficulties regarding travel expenses and the likes. The Econet Telecom Lesotho has filled most if not al gaps that once ushered hiccups for the team.

 He also stated that apart from other companies, ETL has helped the team to also pass on positive impact to society. He continued praising the Econet Telecom Lesotho that they did wonders for his team with their support, even if players are struggling with transport wherever they had to go, the telecommunications organisation was ever present thus elevating their team to where it is today.

According to one ETL employee stakeholder Puleng Masoabi, ETL team as a sponsor is proud that they are no longer just sponsors but also partners as, “that is what they are thankful for, this being the first rugby team in the country of Lesotho to be named the Econet Rugby league.”  She also stated that there are young children at some schools who are still learning about Rugby, and because of that their rugby teams are invited to participate in international spaces to compete with other teams in order to show its activeness.

She commended the Econet Rugby League for its proactive culture, stating that they are proud to have offered the such support. She says the organised has pledged further sponsorship worth M 170 000 during this year of 2024.

ETL has been sponsoring rugby sport since its inception in Lesotho through a team called Maseru Kings under the Federation of Lesotho Rugby.

A strong relationship between Econet and the Federation of Lesotho Rugby was formed through a request for one set of rugby kit. This has happened at the time when the national teams, Likatola and Bahlabani were non-existent and the rugby sport was still foreign to Basotho. Then, the national rugby teams came into being and the relationship strenghthened.

One set of rugby jersey multiplied to four. Then other rugby provisions requests like post guards, corner flags and the players’ formal attire had to be met. Econet has since been supporting the Lesotho Rugby academy with also the default provision of airtime. The main focus of the academy is to develop Lesotho rugby from grassroot level. The academy is using rugby as a vehicle for life skills coaching at schools.

According to the Econet Rugby League secretary general Lit’sitso Mots’eremeli, their main motivation with his team is to attract more participation of players both male and female and sponsors to be angaged to the part they play in the Econet Rugby League team’s performance. It is clear that wherever players increase their participation, that translates to engaging the supporters, and consequently  further understanding of the sport and its players.

He further stated that players, coaches, technical team members and administrators are their main source of strength. He highlighted their main weakness as lack of infrustructure; they do not have pitch and evidemtly struggle with play fields. He completed by showing that apart from infrastructure they do not have insurance, pleading that if ever there is means for probable risk exposure to be covered that would be appreciated by the team at large.

Last but not least the biggest concern for the Econet Rugby League members is to see their team doing more of its intended purpose of departing life skills in a sport fashion. It has been clearly stated that the Econet Rugby League is developing compared to where it has started. The benefits of the Federation of Lesotho cooperating with ETL will be reflected bydifferent  acheivements of the Econet Rugby League. They are not meant to only support but also progress together as partners, to the effect of Lesotho’s global participation and recognition.

Rugby is a 15 aside team sport. The objective of the game is to ground the ball behind the opponents try line, into what is called the in goal area. Rugby is played both with the ball in hand and by kicking the ball. However, when the ball is being carried in hand it can only be thrown or handed off backwards. It is played by two teams of 13 players, with another 4 pre-named players available for six interchanges.