Botswana football celebrated the unveiling of the FIFA Goal Project - soccer technical centre - in February in Gaborone with the hope for big things to come.

Aptly called the Lekidi Football Centre in the indigenous language (which translates as a seed bed), the message from speakers was the home that the seeds from the centre will transform the fortunes of the country's most loved sport.

Leading the political representation in the occasion was the country's vice president Ian Khama who is regularly seen at local games and a fan of the national soccer team, the Zebras.  

He lined up the top table with the heavy weights of football not only locally, but also in the world. Topping the guest list was the FIFA Goal Bureau Chairman, Mohammed Bin Hammam of Qatar and the FIFA Executive Committee member, Ismail Bhamjee.

Hammam told the audience that the FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter had wished to officiate but could not make it because of other commitments.

He was grateful that the government was very supportive in the development of the centre by donating the plot and agreeing to match FIFA's grant Dollar for Dollar. They each raised US$400,000 for the project.

"The Botswana Football Association spent the money wisely. I can say with encouragement that a second project will hopefully find its way to Botswana next year," he said to a big applause. But he warned that such facilities would only serve the country better if they were well maintained.

He praised two of Botswana's top soccer administrators - Bhamjee and Ashford Mamelodi, the FIFA Goal Project Development Officer for Southern Africa.

"Botswana is very lucky to have two of its sons involved at the highest level of football administration. One just has to look at Ashford and imagine the weight he carries in world football," Hammam said to more applause. 

Hammam then toured the centre and planted a tree near the entrance.    
For his part, Khama hailed FIFA's contribution to the building of the centre as a show of confidence. "We are among the fortunate few," he said, "this is a welcome addition to our stock of sports facilities."

But he warned against a development where the sports facilities may turn into "white sports elephants". He completed his day's role by unveiling the plaque and cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening under the watchful eye Hammam and other dignitaries.

Phillip Makgalemele, the BFA president welcomed the guests, thanking all those who made it possible for the project to get off the ground, including the immediate past President David Fani and his executive.

"To me Lekidi resembles success and football improvement in Botswana. Ever since we moved here we have won most of our home national team games, and where we lose, we lose honourably. Lekidi has erased a title we were given a couple of years ago, the title of the Whipping Boys of Africa," Makgalemele said.

In celebrating the day, he said the football fraternity should be aware of the many challenges that lay ahead.

"Our dream as the BFA NEC is that our differences be restricted to the 90 minutes of the game and beyond that we preach smart football teams partnership; we have a dream of winning the hearts and soles of all concerned - the public, private sector, the Botswana community to allow us to bid to host the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations; we have a challenge of mobilising resources for football development in Botswana; we have a challenge of mobilising supporters to go back to attend league football games," he said.  

Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, the chairperson of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) was among the speakers. She thanked the government for its continual support it renders to sport development.
The highlight of the day was when Mamelodi was awarded his centennial FIFA gold medal for the dedicated service he has rendered for Botswana football during his 11 years as the secretary general of the BFA.