Saturday, July 11, 2020

Botswana may benefit from Portugual’s Benfica academy

BY GODFREY MOWANENG

Portuguese giants, Sport Lisboa Benfica is said to be in talks with a South African football consultancy firm to set up one of the biggest football academy in Africa, and Botswana may be the destination.

According to sources, the Portuguese football giants have set their sight on partnering with the University of Botswana, which already has state of the art facilities for this endeavour.

While local footballers haven’t made a mark in the international radar, the Sunday Standard has learnt that the football consultancy firm has faith in local talent and believes local players are capable of making it in the top Europe leagues.

So far, just a handful local players in the likes of Diphetogo Selolwane, Ofentse Nato and Mpho Kgaswane, just to mention a few, have tried their luck overseas.

However, this seems not to have deterred the FC Cape Town consultancy agents have been spotted at the Botswana Football Association (BFA) offices.

The consultancy firm is engaged by the local mother body on another mandate, which is said to be the commercialization of local football.

“FC Cape Town Consultancy Chairman Errol Dicks is a constant at Lekidi Football Centre where he is working with the BFA to turn around fortunes of local football. He is also a football agent with massive knowledge of the game and is well connected with football masters abroad in the top leagues.”

“While in the country working with the BFA, the consultancy firm is also searching for opportunities to elevate levels of football in the country with a vision to set up a football academy with one of the European football giants,” the source told Sunday Standard.

He said despite talks yet to be completed, negotiations are ongoing and expectations are that they will conclude before end of this year.

“The University of Botswana has welcomed the initiative and willing to partner with FC Cape Town Consultancy and Benfica. The project is aimed at developing youngsters at grassroots with a target to witness some developing into international stars that will in future instigate the national team into a formidable side,” revealed the source.

Should this come to pass, it will be a great boost for Botswana as Benfica has over the years been viewed as a model to follow in player development. The club awarded the Best Academy in the world at the 2015 Globe Soccer Awards and some of its products like Bernardo Silva and Renato Sanches, just to mention but two, are lighting up the international football stages.

If the dream comes to be, it will also pave a way for local players to eventually play their trade in the best leagues in Europe.

Currently Mpho Kgaswane remains the only player making strides in Europe plying his trade for Azerbaijan side Zira Fk.

In the past, Botswana’s most decorated player Diphetogo Selolwane made strides abroad plying his trade for Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake in Major Soccer League (MSL) and Vejle BK before thronging the ABSA premiership were he cemented his name in the history books of the South African league where he played for five different clubs. 

However, UB sports, arts and culture department manager Nelson Bodilenyane downplayed the matter saying they are not in any talks with any consultancy regarding a football academy. “We haven’t had of any developments with regards to a football academy and have nothing much to comment on the matter,” said Bodilenyane.

Efforts to reach FC Cape Town agents went futile at the time of press as their phones rang unanswered.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.