“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 sametime,” words of Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.
When he took over at the BFA from 2016 to date, Letshwiti made a bold statement that he is for the development. And his main focus, or perhaps, project is the grassroots of football.
In one previous event he attended, the Lactalis ‘Bonnita cut’ sponsorship of P800 000.00; Letshwiti continued to pin point why development is so close to his heart.
“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.
But, On the 20th of November, the Botswana under17 national team was disqualified from the reginal COSAFA for allegedly failing age eligibility test known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging test (MRI).
With football development being the heart of Letshwiti’s main reason for being the reigning BFA president for two consecutive terms, one may ask, what now for development?
Commenting on the matter, Bongani Malunga, Sports journalist and analyst said being disqualified with allegations of age cheating is not a good look. Even so, he highlighted that with investigations still ongoing; it is not yet clear if the country did an age cheating or a general makeup irregularity is to blame.
“For now, our reputation has taken a hit because we usually do things the right way, normally our performance related shortcomings usually do the talking but now we made regional headlines for something that the football world frowns upon,” he noted.
He however, went on to elaborate that both the it will not only be hard for the country but for Letshwiti as well.
“It will be hard to remove that tag but we can only make up for this by releasing detailed findings of our investigations and owning up to the mistake if at all we did not follow the rules,” Malunga said.
Football analyst, Jimmy George said it is not enough that they only suspended the BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mfolo Mfolo, but the president could have gone far and released an apology to the nation.
“What has happened is bigger than we might think. This disqualification that might last two or more years is going to deny these boys a lot of opportunities even to play for the under 17 World Cup qualifications. And in this hard time, we could be seeing the president at the fore front making us understand what is going on,” George said.
He also pointed out that if the country had a formal league for youth development, this could have been avoided. “We have never seen anything tangible Letshwiti is doing, even his continuity is just a word that is not portraying any solid clear actions to it. And the time is now we take him to task about his plans for football,” George concluded.
Mmegi Sports journalist Mqondisi Dube said in as much as we want to participate in competitions, what has happened cannot really define development as a whole.
“Success can be measured through various means and competitions is one of them like participating in the COASAFA under-17. Development can also mean starting from as little as under-8, under-10 and so on,” Dube pointed out.
He added that going to competitions is some-what a measure of how far as a country we have gone. “Even though it is a serious matter it does not stop the development programs at all,” he said.