Gaborone - Botswana Football Association (BFA) and INEOS Chemical Company last week signed an agreement for the development and establishment of an academy in Botswana.
This followed negotiations between the BFA and the Botswana National Sports Commission in which the former had asked the latter to avail at least 10 hectares of the land on the eastern side of the National Stadium in Gaborone where they will erect what will be “the most modern football academy facility in Africa”.
British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, James Ratcliffe, through his chemical company INEOS Capital Limited, will finance the planned multimillion pula football academy. The British billionaire is willing to spend a minimum US$12 million which is an equivalent of +/-P120 million on the project.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, BFA president Mclean Letshwiti said: “For two years, BFA and INEOS have had engagements for the construction of the academy and today marks a historic signing as this brings the association dream closer to reality.”
INEOS is a soccer academy that gives an opportunity for young soccer players in Africa to develop, allowing the best players a chance to be based in Lausanne, Switzerland, to complete a further two years of academy training and education with a chance at professional football.
For his part, BFA chief executive officer, Mfolo Mfolo, observed that the importance of the facility cannot be underestimated.
“It will give us quality players, secondly we will give young players an opportunity to penetrate the European market, more so the investor has recently acquired a team in Switzerland’s top flight league,” Mfolo said.
He revealed that INEOS has a similar project in Switzerland and that this project would be a conduit for excelling young footballers to make it in Europe.
“Under the agreement, young excelling footballers from the Botswana INEOS academy will be taken to Lausanne, Switzerland, to complete a further two years of academy training and education” he said.
Mfolo said once the building of the academy was complete, it would be entirely run by INEOS, who will bring in experts to carry out the football development process.
“We have, however, agreed that Batswana will be employed in the academy as understudies to the experts as a way to transfer skills to locals. It will also provide medical students and physical education students with an opportunity to do their internships at the academy, which will contribute immensely to sports science.”
The state-of-the-art facility according to the site layout will include, among other things, accommodation for up to 80 people, indoor training facility, fully equipped gym, and a restaurant for both academy and public meals. There will also be high tech media conference centre that can seat 80 people, three full size top-of-the-range FIFA approved turf fields, an artificial turf, five-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on site medical services for doctors and physiotherapists.
In addition, the project will help upgrade the netball facilities as well as install a multi-sport zone for public use. The facility will not only be used for football but it will be a commercial structure which would be used to generate money to run itself.
The objectives of the academy are to provide young footballers from Botswana an opportunity to transform into better footballers at a world class facility in their home country.