The annual Gothia Cup held in Sweden two weeks ago may have been a stepping stone for young local players who graced the event, so believes Somerset Gobuiwang who accompanied Top Stars to their maiden featuring since the tourney started in 1975.
Gobuiwang told Sunday Standard Sport that: “It was a good experience going to Sweden to take part in the world youth tournament for many of them and a chance for me to established contacts that I will use to develop our local game further.”
“For Botswana football to reach a higher level we need academies and to develop kids from a young age. We need to nurture them from grassroots level,” he said.
On whether he was confident of signing players abroad, he said: “I cannot rule that possibility out since scouts were there and I was in contact with some of them from the onset of the tournament.” However, he was cagey about which of them impressed.
Gobuiwang has been instrumental in some of the local senior players penetrating the South African Absa League in the recent past.
Theo Bright, one of the young stars who was part of the team said: “We had a good time in Sweden. The team learnt a lot of things like the fast flow of the European style of football and the importance of fitness.”
Bright said the Gothia Cup experience would remain with him for a long time and wished the good facilities there was something Botswana should copy.
Lauding his boys’ account of themselves coach Ogolotse Oscar Tshupelo said: “They were not overawed and showed good spirit and determination. They countered their fast and quick attacks with some fancy dribbling moves.”
In the first game Top Stars lost 4-0 to Phoenix Academy but came back 2-1 winners against Nasets followed by a goalless draw with IFK Uppsala and ultimately went lost out 1-0 to Mexico in the play-offs.
Tshupelo said other coaches were impressed with his boys. “They were surprised that the boys were not from footballs academies like most of the teams featured,” he reckons
“We learnt a lot especially team organisation, mental and physical strength,” he said.
The trip to Sweden was sponsored by MCC Equstra Group, an affiliate of Karowe Mine, that forked out P200 000 for air tickets.
The Swedish Embassy also made sure the Botswana lads were at home. “The Botswana Embassy in Sweden also helped with travel arrangements Sweden, “Gobuiwang said.