Among his election bid agenda, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) President Maclean Letshwiti and his team had promised to kick-start grassroots football development in the country.
Barely three months into his tenure and amid the chaos at the association, the BFA president, together with his team, now look set to deliver on this promise.
Information reaching Sunday Standard has revealed that the new regime has ordered regional blocks to have started youth leagues by the 19th of this month. This has since been confirmed by the acting BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Susan Lawrence.
According to the acting BFA CEO, “programmes to start age-based leagues targeting under 13, 15 and 17 year-old boys and girls are already in place.” Each regional block is expected to have its own leagues.
The resolution to kick-start the youth leagues is said to have been taken during a meeting between the association and regions which was held at Lekidi on the 22nd of last month (October).
The BFA CEO says the boys’ leagues are expected to kick-off on the 19th of November while the girls’ leagues are expected to kick start on the first weekend of next month (December).’
“The league will mainly be played in the mornings on a point system of home and away. Each team will play each other twice. Each region will have its own champion at each age category boys and girls. In April 2017 there will be an inter-regional tournament or championship,” Lawrence explained.
Lawrence says while the league is being played, “a selection process for the best players per region to form the regional select teams for Under-13, 15 and 17 boys and girls will be ongoing.’
She says the selection will continue even during the inter-regional championships “where a further selection will be conducted for block select teams to play during the inter block championship”.
“During the inter-block championship national team coaches for the respective age categories will be selecting shadow national teams to undergo intensive coaching and training in the reintroduced schools of excellence during school holidays. These are the teams that will be taken for friendly international tournaments across the globe for their exposure to international football demands,” the acting BFA CEO explained.
“This exercise is aimed at ensuring that our young players get exposed while they are at the right age of playing football. You will realise this programme covers both boys and girls in equal emphasis,” she continued.
She further said in line with this project, the BFA national Youth Committee has produced a draft Botswana Football Youth Policy to direct the coaching categories per age that is at grassroots football (4-11 years old), Youth Development (12-15 years old and Elite Youth (16-19 years old).
“The BFA Technical Committee is working with the BFA technical Director on coaching content at the different levels as categorised above. This is to ensure that football becomes attractive to the children of this country. It has life skills training to produce a well-rounded Motswana football player. We are mindful of the fact that not all children will become top players but they would have the necessary life skills that they would have acquired at the football training ground,” she explained.
To actively carry out the grassroots development mandate, Lawrence further said the BFA had instructed its four blocks to have established fully functioning offices before the end of this year.
Each of the four regional block offices are expected to be manned by at least three employees and will also have a Technical Director each. She said expectations are that the Technical Directors will have been hired before the end of December this year.