The Gaborone Football Academy (GFA), which started in 2009, is growing tremendously. Since its inception, it has seen one of its rising stars, Thabang Bojosi, age 12, get signed to Platinum Stars, as well as having players from the academy representing the Botswana U17 team at the Youth African Championships that were held in Morocco recently.
The head manager of the team, Khumo Kenalemang, told The Telegraph Sports that it is clear that GFA are looking to make head way in the football world as they continue to develop players at an under 13, 15 and 17 level.
The contacts and relationships that the GFA continues to build have added to the growing exposure of players and the academy alike. The GFA players get to experience the feeling of life as a professional footballer as they play in front of large audiences, having played in stadiums such as the Orlando Stadium and the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in South Africa by having curtain raisers for big matches.
“We curtain raised Platinum Stars and Orlando Pirates games, the Absa Premier league game between Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtics,” he said.
The success outside of the country has garnered respect from some of the biggest names in South African football. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing as there were pessimistic views based on a lack of understanding of what the academy was trying to achieve.
“Initially, people didn’t understand what was going on or knew what we were doing was all about,” he said.
He added that their belief is that there is a difference between a player starting to play football at a young age and the development of a player. He emphasised that the vision GFA was to create technically gifted footballers who would be able to compete with the world’s best players.
In August, the Academy will be hosting a Winter Cup with academy teams from South African Premier League sides, Supersport United and Mamelodi Sundowns.
However, The Academy is not solely focused on the development of football players, but on the career opportunity the sport can offer. Kenalemang mentioned how the exposure to professional football in South Africa has helped all facets of the Academy, allowing the coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and other staff to see opportunities of having a professional career in sports.
With their sights set on growing their exposure in Botswana and promoting their beliefs and philosophies, GFA has signed an agreement with 90 Plus Promotions, a local sports management company. Kenalemang added how the expectation of this deal was for 90 Plus Promotions to assist the Academy in building and strengthening its brand within the country.