In a bid to continue to improve local football, Botswana Football Association (BFA) has pinned its hope on youth development. After rolling out what they term a successful national youth league, the association is now stepping up to the second phase of the project. BFA this weekend launches the Elite Youth and Youth Leagues for the 2017/2018 season in a bid to address development problems in the country. BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association came up with the youth league initiative in a way to create a pool of players that will be feeding the senior national team. Mpatane said for some years the country has been struggling to produce players of note and the youth league will help with this. He said the last season of the youth league has been a success with a humbling reaction from the rest of the country. “We have had a great milestone during the 2016/2017 youth league season, having been able to reach over 24 000 boys and girls across the country. We are looking forward to a much more amazing season in the 2017/2018 period,” he said. For a long time, the absence of developmental structures has been blamed for the poor performance that national teams.
When he took over as BFA president Maclean Letshwiti professed development especially grassroots development as the key to growing local football. It was then that the youth league was started shortly after he took over. A number of development experts have visited Botswana to help evaluate BFA’s development strategy. FIFA’s technical advisor recently came into the country to assess the strategy as well as the German expert who is currently in the country. The association believes that for the country to start doing well in football, it should start with a vigorous development of the players at a very young age. It is for this reason that grass roots development begins to take centre stage. As the association launches the Elite Youth and Youth league hopes are high that this will result in producing quality players for the future. Mpatane explained that the Elite Youth programme that will mainly concentrate on the eastern side of the country will target players from 16 years going up. He said as this will be a pilot programme it is starting with a smaller number. “This programme will however be expanded to other parts of the nation with time,” said Mpatane. He said with this programme they will be targeting coaches with at least a minimum of C level qualification. He said this is also to try and empower the coaches and help them grow. He explained that in their quest to push for development they will be returning to the Schools of Excellences where the teams will have camps every school holidays. “We are also strengthening our relationship with the Centres of Excellences to try and accelerate football development from a young age,” said Mpatane.