Botswana Football Association (BFA) this week revealed that they were unable to select a competent under-15 squad to represent the country at the Africa Youth Games (AYG), which begin on May 22. BFA Technical Officer Phillemon Makhwengwe this week said poor development structures in most local teams made it very difficult for them to put together a competitive team.
“We managed to select a team, but the main problem is lack of commitment to development by local teams. They think development is the responsibility of the BFA. They forget that BFA doesn’t have a team. That’s why players go back to their respective teams after national duty,” he said.
Makhwengwe said only a few teams in the domestic league have functional youth development structures. He added that football development is a headache in Botswana because clubs don’t see its importance and choose to concentrate on tried and tested players. He said young players are the first to be dumped whenever there are budgetary constraints, which is wrong because ideally clubs must concentrate on younger players to build for the future.
‘‘Many clubs view development as an expensive undertaking. Sadly, they never take responsibility, but always blame BFA,” he said.
He further revealed that when selecting the current U-15 squad BFA had to look everywhere in search of good players.
“We even visited some academies that have unregistered coaches but still produce good players. There is no way we can ignore local development facilities because, even though they are not registered, they still complement our efforts. Without them it could have been worse,” he said.
In the hunt for players, BFA asked different youth academies around the country to nominate six players. The selection was then made by a panel headed by Makhwengwe and veteran coach Stanley Mwaanga. When commenting on the issue, soccer analyst Jimmy George said lack of proper development structures means that no one can claim glory when the U-15 team does well.
“We cannot attribute the U-15’s good performance at AYG to good development structures. Even if they win we can’t claim any responsibility,” he said.
However, he urged the young boys to rally forth as they are carrying the hopes of the nation in their shoulders.
‘‘At the end of the day the nation expects a win. Batswana will be expecting a medal from the boys,” said George.