Cabinet has accepted Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s long standing proposal of building a football academy on a piece of land measuring 7 hectors, the Minister of Youth empowerment, Sport and Culture development Thapelo Olopeng has revealed to the association.
Cabinet reached the decision last week Tuesday, allowing the association to develop the land located behind the National Stadium. Olopeng was part of the delegation that officiated at BFA offices when the association opened a new football ground together with ablutions last week. The minister also reportedly told the association that his ministry is on the verge of building similar facilities in 10 constituencies at an estimated budget of P 50 million.
All the while, this development is highly welcomed at Lekidi Football Center where the association’s overwhelming talks to commercialIse football are anticipated to resume. The negotiations were reportedly stalled following the delay by the Ministry of Sport to deliberate on the proposal. 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, 3 x full size top of 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 be a commercial structure which would be used to generate money to run itself. Ratcliffe, through his chemical company INEOS Capital Limited will foot the bills of the facility solely. 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 two 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 (CEO), 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. BFA CEO says the ground breaking ceremony of the multi-million infrastructure will be communicated in the near future.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.