Notwane Football Club today (Sunday) sent their Under 17 team off to Johannesburg where they will participate in a tournament organized by the Gauteng Provincial Government.
The tournament features development sides of teams such as Inter Milan of Italy, Boca Junior of Argentina, Corinthians of Brazil, Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows of South Africa, just to mention a few.
Notwane have been drawn in a group that has inter Milan, Mumbai Academy of India, whom they will face in their first match and Sedibeng select of South Africa.
On Friday, they held a pre-departure party at Bonatla where the lads were given the team’s colours. Notwane’s newly elected Public Relations Officer, Andrew Mokgatlhane, expressed confidence that the team will perform well despite going into an unfamiliar terrain and not knowing fully well what to expect. He revealed to the Sunday Standard that they have had only two weeks of training, but said they have prepared well. He said that the team played Mochudi Centre Chiefs senior team and lost by 2-1 in a game they lacked sharpness in front of the goal.
The whole week the team had been practicing attacking drills and looked impressive. The junior leagues have been, however, been inactive for some time and the young boys might be lacking the necessary experience. Mokgatlnane also revealed that the delegation will be headed by the Club’s Vice Chair, Mothusi Lekalake, who is expected to network with the participating team’s officials for potential attachments and other deals for the young stars and the club as well.
The team is also accompanied by a BFA representative, its youthful coach Christopher Rabalago, assistant coach, Othusitse Leshetlhe, alongside Physiotherapist, Kakale Mabechu.
Rabalago himself is a product of the Notwane development, and was in the same team as Pontsho Moloi, but suffered an injury that put an abrupt end to his promising career. Mokgathane encouraged other teams to start taking development seriously, as it presents the only serious chance for Botswana football to play against other countries.
He, however, said that development is an expensive exercise and needs officials who firmly believe in it. He said that he was happy that since 1994, his club has consistently produced quality players who did not only play for his team but other premier league teams as well. He regretted, though, that local teams have a way of poaching players from their development structures before they could be fully developed to become ready for international level, which he said is their ultimate aim.
Mogatlhane further advised that having a development programme helps teams not to struggle in the event that the team loses its mature players. He cited Flamingo Santos’s resuscitation this season as tangible evidence that, with development a team can always bounce back.
Regrettably, it appears the Botswana Football Association has not been that helpful to the team, as the team continued training on its own without the support of the BFA technical team. However, the team used the Lekidi for training purposes during the weekend when the national team was on break from camp.
The players will leave this morning at 8 o’clock from Gaborone Sun Hotel.
The players are: Nelson Sibanda, Modisaotsile Ramhago, Tirelo Lebona Morake, Sakhumizile Mabua, Bokang Motlhankana, Letumile Molebatsi, Williamson Goitsemann, Moabi Nathaniel Tshephe, Gape Bogatsu, Fani Segokgo, Norman Sefhudi, Tshepho Mokotedi., Kagiso Diago, Solomon Jeremiah, Tshepho Babusi, Maipelo Ramolemane, Happy Mthengula, and Thato Goitsemang.