The finals of Botswana’s premiere grassroots football development programme tournament, the Chappies Little League, will be played in Ramotswa this coming Wednesday.
The two-day tournament, which is expected to conclude on Thursday, has been sponsored to the tune of P200 000 by Cadbury South Africa. At least thirty-two teams of players under the age of 12 from primary schools across the country will be expected to take part in the tournament.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, 16 of the 32 teams taking part will be girls’ teams.
Speaking to Standard Sport at the launch, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Technical Director, Sonnyboy Sethibe, said the intention is to help develop the women’s football in the country. Just like their boys counterparts, Sethibe says they expect the girls discovered at this tournament to progress into the existing women football teams in schools as well as football clubs.
“A lot of the current players in the country have come through this league and we want to extend the same privilege to our ladies teams,” the BFA Technical Director said. To enhance the role played by the Chappies league tournament in the development of football in the country, Sethibe says all parties involved in the tournament, the BFA, Cadbury and the Botswana Primary Schools Sports Associations (BOPSSA) have agreed to change the tournament format.
“Starting in 2011, this tournament will be played in a league form. This will enable us to have time to scout for talent, which we will then try to nurture,” he told Standard Sport.
Sethibe further said those talented kids identified from this new system will then be roped into regional teams where they will be afforded better training and development.
Speaking at the sponsorship launch this past Friday, a representative of Cadbury South Africa, Elias Pholosi, said his company intends to see their relationship with Botswana football grow. He mentioned that, together with former BFA boss, Ashford Mmamelodi, and the then BFA technical Director, Ben Koffi, they formulated the tournament with the aim of developing football in the country.
Pholosi says when the partnership was started way back in 1991, Botswana was an unknown in the international football arena. He says this has, however, changed as shown by the national team’s (Zebras) recent good showing in international football arena.
For his part, BOPSSA’s national organizer for football, Keabetswe Selebatso, expressed gratitude at the Cadbury sponsorship. He says as the beneficiaries of the sponsorship, BOPSSA will be fully behind the BFA and Cadbury’s drive to develop football in the country. He pointed out that their recent signing of a memorandum of agreement with the BFA points out the seriousness of both parties in the development of football.