Even behind the mandatory masks worn to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the smile on Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti was unmissable.
After four years of trial and error, toil and frustration, the BFA had finally nabbed a partner for its youth football development programmes.
Lactalis Botswana, a dairy products manufacturer of repute, had finally agreed to sponsor the association’s youth football tournament.
On Tuesday last week, the group announced a whopping P800 000 two-year sponsorship for what would be known as the Bonnita Cup.
Lactalis Botswana joined a burgeoning list of companies which have over the past three years joined hands with the FA to develop new talent.
These include First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) with a P3 000 000 sponsorship for a period of three-years, local supermarket Choppies with a P3.7 million hospitality deal to assist the national youth male development teams, and ABSA Botswana with a P1.2 million sponsorship deal known as the ‘Social investment programme’.
As a direct sponsor for the BFA youth tournaments, there is a growing hope that this particular sponsorship may be the final jigsaw in the association’s development puzzle.
Under the banner of its locally produced and well known Bonnita brand, Lactalis Botswana will cover ‘all amenities required during the prescribed stages of BFA youth football tournaments from semi-finals to finals.’
The sponsorship, it is said, will be rolled out to boys and girls in the under 12, under 15 and under 17 age categories.
Branded soccer kits, balls, boots, medals and refreshments to name a few will be offered during the tournament, something expected to reinvigorate youth football.
Letshwiti says Lactalis Botswana’s is not just a sponsorship but a much-needed investment in the country’s youth.
“The youth is the diamond of Botswana and if we do not look after them there is no future for the country even with football. If we do not look after the youth development in football there will be no future for our football,” he said.
Lactalis Botswana’s arrival gives the Letshwiti led BFA hope that their endeavour to resuscitate football development in the country is finally taking shape.
The BFA president expressed optimism that the gesture from Lactalis, is the beginning of a new era in the association’s pursuit for greatness.
“This is the beginning of good things,” Letshwiti gushed. “If you want a good national team, you need exciting players and these players are manufactured. They are not just discovered but rather they are moulded into greatness,” he explained.
In addition, he noted that before Covid-19 the youth leagues were launched and funded, unfortunately, the pandemic put a halt on the association’s initiatives.
Now as football returns under the new normal, the BFA president, bolstered by the arrival of sponsors such as Lactalis Botswana, said COVID-19 can no longer be an excuse.
The BFA president is optimistic that the youth leagues will be played in every region across the country.
For Letshwiti, all these sponsorships are in unison with each other as they are going to help develop the future stars of this country and later on look after them.
With all this, he added that he is expecting that a minimum of five players should be sent to Europe or anywhere in Africa annually.
“My legacy lays in development, it should be a sustainable system of development not only for Botswana but Africa as a whole. This is to show people that players can be developed and be competitive at the sometime,” he concluded.