Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana Football Association (BFA) are currently locked in negotiations for the latter to be availed land for its planned multimillion pula football academy.
According to sources, the BFA has asked the Sports Commission to avail at least 10 hectares of the land on the eastern side of the National Stadium where they will erect what will be ‘the most modern football academy facility in Africa.’
The project, which is close to the heart of BFA president Maclean Letshwiti, is the brainchild of billionaire financier and industrialist James Ratcliffe, who will wholly finance the project through his INEOS Chemical Company.
Speaking in an interview, BFA Chief executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo said the association had already met with the BNSC Board earlier this year. “When we met, the BNSC board informed us that for them to consider our request, they need a financial guarantee from our financier as well as a resolution from the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC),” Mfolo explained.
“We have since availed the required documents to the BNSC and we are just awaiting their answer,” he added.
Should the required land be granted any time soon, the BFA CEO said the financiers are ready to start building as early as June this year.
“This will be a massive project with potential to create employment for locals as well as to benefit not only football but other sporting codes like netball and volleyball,” he explained.
With the required land encroaching on the land zoned out for netball and volleyball, Mfolo said INEOS is keen to help upgrade the facilities for both netball and volleyball.
Mfolo said INEOS intends to build a state of the art facility, which will include, among others, three (3) full size top of the range FIFA approved turf fields, four (4) artificial turf five-a-side fields as well as an indoor training facility.
Other developments will include accommodation facility for up to 80 people, high tech media centre that can seat 80 people, restaurant for both academy and public meals, a fully equipped gym as well as onsite medical services.
According to Mfolo, INEOS is willing to spend a minimumUS$12 million (an equivalent of +/-P120 million) on the project.
“They (INEOS) have already drawn the technical design and plans for the site and have availed them to us. However, the final ones will be dependent on the availability of the land to be leased from the BNSC,” he explained.
Mfolo said for the BFA, the erection and running of the INEOS academy is a cost free project which will massively benefit the country and give local youngsters a shot at making it into the European football markets.
“INEOS has a similar project in Switzerland and this project will be a conduit for excelling young footballers to make it in Europe. Under the agreement, young excelling footballers from the Botswana INEOS academy will be taken to Lausanne, Switzerland to complete a further two years of academy training and education,” he explained.
Mfolo said once the building of the academy is complete, it will be entirely run by INEOS, who will bring in experts to carry out the football development process.
“We have however agreed that Batswana will be employed in the academy as understudies to the experts as a way to transfer skills to locals. It will also provide medical students and physical education students with an opportunity to do their internships at the academy, which will contribute immensely to sports science,” he concluded.