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BNSC red tape scare away investor

Publishing Date : 05 March, 2018

Author : KETUMILE RAMATITI

Botswana Football Association (BFA) could lose a once in a life time opportunity of erecting a high level football academy in the country due to Botswana National Sports Commission’s (BNSC) labyrinth bureaucracy.


BFA is in advanced talks with British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, James Ratcliffe who is interested in financing the building of a sports academy but now fear he may be snatched away by Namibians who have been courting him for the same. Ratcliffe has frequented the country on three occasions, precisely Lekidi Football Centre, since MacLean Letshwiti assumed the BFA power seat.


The main reason for the visits, WeekendSport has learnt was to discuss the setting up of the academy as well as to see the possible piece of land where the academy would be set up. BFA CEO Mfolo Mfolo says the idea was to build the facility in the idle space behind the National Stadium stretching to the UB Stadium.


“We have met with assistant minister Kefentse Mzwinila together with the permanent secretary Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo and they were happy with the idea. Now we have approached BNSC to give us the land but it appears it would take time. The main reason is the land in question is zoned for various sport codes but we cannot let this opportunity just pass us by,” Mfolo said in an interview this week.


This state-of-the-art facility according to the site layout will include:  accommodation for up to 80 people; indoor training facility; fully equipped gym; Restaurant for both academy and public meals. High tech media conference centre that can seat 80, 3 x full size top of range FIFA approved turf fields, artificial turf 5-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on site medical services (doctor and physiotherapists).In addition the facility 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 facility which would be used to generate money to run itself. Ratcliffe, through his chemical company INEOS Capital Limited will foot the bills of the facility solely. The objectives of the academy are to give young footballers from Botswana the opportunity to become better footballers at a world class facility in their home country. Further it will allow for the best players to travel to Lausanne, Switzerland to complete a further 2 years of academy training and education which will avail them the opportunity to be professional footballers in Europe.


The importance of the facility cannot be underestimated, according to the BFA CEO. “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 highlighted.


The grand plan was to start the ground breaking ceremony of the multi-million infrastructure in June this year, subject to BNSC availing the land. “The Namibians are also luring him to their side, but he was interested in Botswana but if this bureaucracy drags on he might change his mind which will be a huge loss to us,” Mfolo pointed out. This week Mfolo had to give convincing presentations to the BNSC board in a bid to push them to avail the land. “They will give us their response in the best possible short time,” he said.  

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