Development is the backbone of every sport around the world and without it there is no way a country can succeed.
Almost all countries that are always on top of the world in soccer have strong developmental structures.
Regardless of whether there is a shortage of resources, as long as structures are there results come smooth for year.
There are, however, those countries that suffer from the age gap. This is whereby countries develop for a certain period of time but then only concentrate on one team. Once that particular team reaches its ceiling, it is back to square one.
The typical example is African giants, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. They tend to perform well for a certain period of time only to come back strongly after years in the doldrums. After making history by being the first African team to reach the 1990 quarter finals, Cameroon struggled to make an impression for years.
The issue of development has also, for along time, been a thorny issue in Botswana.
Most teams are not taking the development seriously and mainly rely on the ready made material. Even the previous sponsor of the Premier League, Mascom, was concerned about the issue of development and even promised incentives for teams that take it seriously.
But only a few teams heeded Mascom’s concern.
Even the junior league that was last season headed by Fobby Radipotsane frustrated him because many teams did not show interest. What was even surprising was the fact that the teams that disregarded it were the so-called big guns.
Although Botswana’s national teams have not been doing well internationally, the fraction that ended up at the top went through proper development channels and structures.
The notable faces of such achievement are Diphetogo Selolwane, Tshephiso Molwantwa, Seabo Gabanakgosi, Mogogi Gabonamong, Mompati Thuma and Dirang Moloi.
The trio of Selolwane, Molwantwa and Gabanakgosi played well together from the Under 17s up to the senior team. They made a formidable combination that reached a standard where previous teams had not.
Although Gabanakgosi is no longer playing due to a knee problem, the partnership of Molwantwa and Selolwane is still seen as the most successful in the history of Botswana football.
Since Molwantwa decided to take a break to concentrate on his personal life, Botswana has struggled in front of goal. Although Molwantwa was seen as having problems with certain basics, his understanding with Selolwane is yet to be matched.
Selolwane has also since made his trademark outside Botswana. He played in the United States of America before landing in the South African Premier League, where he is currently based.
He is perhaps Botswana’s longest serving player on foreign soil. His consistency also catapults him above the rest.
Even in the Zebras’ colours, Selolwane is still the country’s leading goalscorer and probably the best. It can be borne in mind that their Under 17 squad of 1995 was the first from Botswana to play at the Youth African Championships.
After the legion of Selolwane and Molwantwa, in came the likes of Gabonamong and Thuma. The duo is also still doing duty for the senior team.
Gabonamong is also one of the few local players based in the South African Premier League. Last season, he was chosen Cape Town Santos Player of the Season. Just like Selolwane, Mogogi is a consistent player who rarely disappoints when doing duty for either his team or the national team. There are even reports that certain South African top teams are after his services.
Thuma, on the other hand, has been the pillar of the Zebras for several years now. The Zebras without him are disaster.
Thuma is a kind of player many would believe can make those fiery tackles with ease. What is even surprising about him is that he started as a striker at school and banged in many goals. Many people would not believe it looking at how he shapes the defence. He is also one player who is unfortunate not to be playing outside the country at this point.
Dirang Moloi is one player who also has been through the development structures and he might make it in years to come if success does not get the better of him.