While players approaching 21 years are expected to break into top flight football, the local development league is dominated by lower division clubs with only two premiership clubs engaged in the set-up – Jwaneng Galaxy and Police XI taking heed.
Second division sides Top Stars, Tlokweng Pirates and Young Strikers, Gaborone Academy, Future Stars, Young Boys, Maruapula Hungry Leopards and Debswana First Division side Matebejane are the only ones taking the baton.
With expectations that the U-21 league would be a feeder to clubs in the higher ranks, the challenge is that these lower division clubs have no direct relationships with premiership clubs which will defy fast tracking of development of young players into the premiership league.
While some players will attract the scouts’ eyes, the transition for a player to make a debut in the premiership will be delayed due to attachments with lower division teams unlike development players registered with elite league clubs.
However, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) says it is not a matter of premiership clubs partaking in the development league as most clubs despite status of division have development teams.
It is said that such development had obstacles of lack of funds that come along with running the league.
“Some of our clubs have these development teams and it’s just that the league currently does not have a proper reserve league that the young boys can regularly feature in. Hope is that a conversation on the reserve league can start and maybe we can see it come to life, but we must understand that these things need funds for them to smoothly operate,” a BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane told Sunday Standard.
He said that the development league was initiated by national team coach Peter Butler so as to expose youngsters and was meant for all clubs across board.
“‘This is a wonderful initiative from Butler. He believed that youngsters between the ages of 17 to 21 do not get enough game time and exposure in the local league and he wanted to try to develop a league that will help players who are ready to play and develop.
“The coach presented the matter to the teams and they liked it and found it as something they were willing to do. These teams you are referring to have development sides and thus they also wish to see their players active,” said Mpatane.
“Butler wants to see youngsters who are ready to break into the first division and Premier League get regular game time and above all help in creating a bigger pull of Under-23 players who can be future Zebras,” Mpatane concluded.