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BFA resumes academy talks

Botswana Football Association (BFA) has signed heads of agreements with a company called INEOS Football Botswana Limited for the purposes of developing and re- establishing the football academy, WeekendSport has learnt.

The spadework could have long been completed but the former Minister of Youth empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama stalled the progress, arguing that resubmission of facts be reviewed at the cabinet. Before Tshekedi was redeployed to the Ministry, Minister Thapelo Olopeng had convinced his cabinet about BFA’s colorful dream of building a football academy in Gaborone. TK has previously argued that the academy dream, should it see the light of the day, be erected at any other place but not Gaborone.

Documents seen by this publication now indicate that the association has earnestly recommenced the process and are at a stage where a deal has been agreed with relevant parties. The papers reveal that “BFA has agreed to cooperate with INEOS for the purpose of establishing the academy and thereafter supporting the Academy’s objectives and in particular to secure the land and the lease in favour of INEOS.” An agreement has also been reached that, “in consideration for the lease, INEOS shall effect the development and thereafter fund the management and operations of the academy. All the while, this development is highly welcomed at Lekidi football center where the association’s overwhelming talks to commercial football are anticipated to accelerate.

It is indicated that BFA is now at stage of re- engaging the British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, James Ratcliffe to start pumping money into BFA project that is expected to be completed in the next two years. Ratcliffe who is originally from Switzerland, had frequented the country on three occasions, precisely at Lekidi Football Centre, since MacLean Letshwiti assumed the BFA power seat. The main reason for the visits, WeekendSport has learnt was to discuss the setting up of the academy as well as to assess the possible piece of land where the academy would be set up.

The state-of-the-art facility according to the site layout, will include-among others-accommodation for up to 80 people; indoor training facility; fully equipped gym; Restaurant for both academy and public meals. High tech media conference centre that can seat 80. Three times the full size top of the range FIFA approved turf fields, artificial turf 5-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on site medical services (doctor and physiotherapists). In addition, the project will help upgrade the netball facilities as well as install a multi-sport zone for public use. The facility will not only be used for football but it will also be a commercial structure which would be used to generate money to run itself. Ratcliffe, through his chemical company INEOS Capital Limited, will solely foot the bills of the facility. Overall projection of finances is still unknown.

The objectives of the academy are to provide young footballers from Botswana an opportunity to transform into better footballers at a world class facility in their home country. Further, it will allow for the best players to travel to Lausanne, Switzerland- a country that also houses the FIFA headquarters- to complete a further 2 year of academy training and education that will eventually avail them the opportunity to become professional footballers in Europe.

According to the BFA Chief Executive Officer (CE0) Mfolo Mfolo, the importance of the facility cannot be underestimated. “It will give us quality players, secondly we will give young players an opportunity to penetrate the European market more so the investor has recently acquired a team in Switzerland’s top flight league,” Mfolo said.

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Mason Greenwood attempted rape charges dropped

2nd February 2023

Charges of attempted rape and assault have been dropped against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood who was arrested in January 2022 after the allegations emerged.

The 21-year-old was arrested in January last year amid allegations surrounding images and videos that emerged online.

He was later charged with attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the charges were discontinued after a key witness withdrew their involvement.

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Raphael Varane announces retirement from international football after 10 years of service.

2nd February 2023

The Manchester United defender will now focus on his club career having made 93 caps for France, appearing at three world cups and on European championship. The Les Bleus won the World cup in 2018 and Raphael Varane started all but one of France’s matches in Qatar as they finished as runners up to Argentina

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Finally, sponsors jerk BFA

30th January 2023

With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.

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