Lactalis Botswana sponsored Bonnita Youth Cup finally took place this past weekend after close to two years on the ice due to the Covid-19 induced delays.
A long term envisaged football grassroots development programme by the Botswana Football Association (BFA), the three-day tournament featured Under 15 and 17 boys’ teams from regional associations.
BFA chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo says the tournament is part of the association’s ambitious programme to revive the youth competitions.
“As BFA we remain committed to grassroots development of the game. We are pleased to have been able to, through our sponsors hold this youth tournament. Our hope is that through initiatives such the Bonita Cup, our efforts towards identifying and grooming youthful talent will be realized,” said Mfolo.
The BFA CEO’s sentiments were shared by the association BFA mouthpiece Carol Kgafela. “The weekend tournament has achieved its objectives. The plan was to give the youngsters game time and exposure to scouts and junior team coaches,” she explained.
Kgafela is optimistic that the youth tournament “will result in spotted talent that can be absorbed into the junior national teams.” Though the tournament was a success, the BFA spokesperson admitted it had teething problems.
“We had challenges. We only had eight regions participating in this tournament as some regions were not able to make it due to financial constraints,” Kgafela said while explaining why only eight out of the 17 regions participated.
To mitigate against such challenges in the future, the BFA is hoping to work hand in hand with the teams and the sponsor to see how the teams can be assisted. This will be on the agenda as the association seeks to increase team participation in the second edition and going forward.
Gaborone Region emerged the champions of the first edition in both categories. In the under 15 category, it was raining goals as Gaborone Under 15 region hammered their peers from neighbouring Kweneng region 15 – 0. It was the same in the Under 17 finals as the boys from the capital city thrashed Francistown 17 – 0.
With the first edition now done, the BFA is hopeful of better editions ahead. The association has vowed to use the experiences gained from the inaugural tournament to better the coming ones.
It is hoped the emergence of initiatives such as this will alleviate the burden of development brought forth by the teachers’ reluctance to be involved in sports. The junior teams are mostly drawn from schools but are now suffering because of deadlock between teacher’s unions and the government over time payments or allowances. Teachers have been pillars of school sport providing service for free until recently when they felt hard done by government. The school sport after assurances by government officials that they will start is yet to be realised.