As well as developing football in Botswana through various training programmes, FIFA is trying to bring about a positive impact on the country’s inhabitants by investing in a number of social programmes.
Botswana was one of the locations of FIFA’s programme ’20 Centres for 2010’ and the legacy left by the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa was evident today as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter inaugurated an extension of the Lekidi Technical Centre in Gaborone, a Goal II project.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a football turf pitch also took place in the presence of the country’s Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Shaw Kgathi and the President of the Botswana FA, Tebogo Sebego.
The President also had an audience with the vice-president of Botswana, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, who is an ex-footballer at national level.
Blatter, who was returning to a country he last visited 12 years ago, praised Botswana’s national team for qualifying for the 2012 CAF Cup of Nations for the first time, a remarkable achievement, given its population contains only two million inhabitants.
“There are no small countries in FIFA, they all have the same rights, all have the same vote at the congress, all have the same rights to take part and organize competitions,” said the FIFA President. “The AFCON this year has shown that there are no more small countries. All have a fair chance to win.
“Football is discipline, respect, fair play and competition. We try to bring those same values into society. And if we only achieve it a little bit it will already be a success”.
How Botswana has benefitted from FIFA assistance
Botswana has benefitted from three Goal projects so far: the building of a technical centre with two grass pitches, an extension to the technical centre and a football turf pitch. FIFA has invested $1.3m USD, with the government of Botswana also investing in these structures.
The Lekidi Technical Centre is the country’s hub for coach, referee, administrator and medical education, as well as youth development; preparation and accommodation for national teams.
Next month, a Football for Hope centre will open in Ramotswa, just outside Gaborone in collaboration with the South East District Youth Empowerment Association (SEDYEA). In a country so affected by the HIV/AIDS virus, SEDYEA empowers and supports young people in dealing effectively with HIV/AIDS and other socio-economic issues, through education and access to health services.
Reflecting on the visit, BFA President Sebego said: “It would have been impossible to reach the milestones that we have reached without the support of FIFA.”