Botswana Football Association (BFA) and INEOS Chemical Company last week signed an agreement for the development and establishment of a football academy in Botswana. This followed negotiations between the BFA and the Botswana National Sports Commission during 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 plan to 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, the 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 young football players in Africa the opportunity to develop, allowing the best players the 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, the BFA Chief Executive Officer, Mfolo Mfolo stressed that the importance of the facility cannot be underestimated.
“It will give us quality players and we will give young players the opportunity to penetrate the European market, especially given 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, best performing young 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 academy was complete, it would be run entirely 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 to transfer skills to the locals. It will also provide medical students and physical education students with the opportunity to do their internships at the academy, which will contribute immensely to Sports Science.”
According to the site layout, the state-of-the-art facility will include, among other things, accommodation for up to 80 people, an indoor training facility, a fully equipped gym and a restaurant for both the academy and the public. There will also be a 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, a boardroom and office space as well as 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 used to generate money to run itself. The objectives of the academy are to give Botswana’s young footballers the opportunity to transform into better footballers at a world-class facility in their home country.