Chaimlos…

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By Kabelo Mollo

Institutions.  They must outlive us. They must be our legacy. They should be what we leave behind for our progeny.  They should also be strong, and supersede any individual’s whims and desires.

Institutional or muscle memory is the central principle that guides them.  Think about legacy schools, or higher education facilities referred to as such. How about events? The annual jazz event in Maseru is widely referred to as an institution. Or how about a recreational facility like the Maseru club where many of us played as children, and now enjoy a tipple as members in the bar. These are places and events that will rightly outlive us!

Another such institution is Chaimlos International Football Club, the Sunday soccer team I have played for since 2003. A merry band of brothers that has stood the test of time. Through sheer will and determination of a few guys that institution has thrived and continues to grow and shape the minds of its members. Chaimlos, is more than a Sunday soccer team, it’s a way of life. It is a part of our identity. Much like the Hotel California, you might metaphorically check out, but you will never ever leave.

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As a young student home for the holidays, I always looked forward to Sundays. Catching up with older guys I hadn’t seen in ages, scoring goals for fun and generally burning off any excess energy pent up during the week. The competitive edge that accompanied it was always alive. Whether playing a five-a-side practice game or a match against an opponent, there was always going to be a bite to the game. No quarter was ever given, and certainly none asked. That the bulk of the membership were young adult Basotho was the cherry on top. As a networking platform it was absolute gold, but it wasn’t ever about networking, more blowing off steam and maintaining some form of shape.

The greatest thing in the world about this institution is how many of us have gone from boy to man under this umbrella. All too many of us have gone from all nighters at the club to all nighters changing diapers as active members of this great unit. It is something of a running joke that the morning after your wedding you must be at the football ground bright and early so as to acclimatise your wife to that reality. Our wives are football widows and if we’re honest that couple of hours without us is like mana from heaven for them.

The team has not only continued for that long because of our desire to run around, but also because the institution supersedes all of us. Its bigger than even its founders. We’re all going to leave it here, and quite frankly we can’t pay greater homage to the founders than that.

Institutions and institutional memory are important. With any luck our reform process will build and rebuild that memory in our strategic arms. We can no longer have a situation where we entrust power in people as opposed to institutions. The reason the Chaimlos analogy works is exactly this, the centre of power is in the over arching philosophy and the team rather than individuals. It is beyond the silo that is the individual because they come and go.

This is an ode to my beloved Sunday football club, but it’s also a reminder that the sum is better than its parts. Communities such as our football one, and others like the civil service are greater than the person who occupies it at the time.

Thank you to Chaimlos and all it’s done for us. Big ups to the extended communities forged through those epic Sunday mornings.