Last year Botswana’s national Under 17 qualified for the African championships that were held in Morocco.
It was the third time Botswana qualified for an Under 17 tournament after a similar feat in 1995 and 1997, respectively.
However, the gains of last year seem to have regressed drastically and might have serious long-time repercussions on Botswana football. This follows the elimination of all youth teams from international competitions.
Earlier in the year, the national Under 20 lost to Malawi. And on Friday the Under 17 were crushed by Zambia by five goals without reply. The Zambians had won the first leg 1-0, and went through on an aggregate score of 6-0.
This should be a cause for concern because the youth teams are the feeder for the senior national team.
Under 17 coach, Odirile Matlhaku, told The Telegraph Sports that the team lost dismally to Zambia because of ill-preparations compared to their opponents. He said they also did not have much time to even play several friendly matches.
Matshdiso ‘Sexton’ Kowa, a man who burns with a passion for youth development, told The Telegraph Sports that the problem lies with the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
He said the BFA have to come up with comprehensive plans to develop football in the country.
“Let’s be honest when seriously developing football you cannot rely on school because football there is only played on the second term. Second term we talk of three months and in other countries football is played throughout the year and that is why they are successful. Only once we do that that is only when we can say we are developing and football will go somewhere,” he said.
Kowa also decried the state of Premier League teams saying they are not helping the situation.
He said teams have turned themselves into vultures by just capturing the talent they did not develop at little cost.
“Once Premier League teams hear of any young good player, they rush for him. I do not have a problem with that but the main problem is that they do not want to pay. If they were paying well those teams producing them would also produce five times and at the end of the day it is the country that benefits,” he said.
Kowa’s team, Uniao Flamengo Santos, has produced several high-profile players in the country but has always decried the lack of clear guidelines for pricing their players.
A typical example of a high-profile player is Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele, who has just signed for Mamelodi Sundowns, but is still playing for Platinum Stars.