The mixed audience in a dimly lit Lekidi auditorium sat attentively to soak in new Botswana Football Association (BFA) technical director, Serame Letsoaka's tactical approach to delivering a seamless development project. Letsoaka, who arrives with a solid reputation, will however, face a litmus test in a new environment where nothing comes on a silver platter, writes MQONDISI DUBE
After a bright, but late start to Wednesday's press conference, proceedings swiftly shifted to the darker side when Serame Letsoaka began his presentation.
A teacher by profession, Letsoaka, was handed the BFA technical director's post on June 1, 2018.
The lights had to go off when the South African began his PowerPoint presentation, which dragged for close to 45 minutes.
But on the board, emerged a presentation good enough to drive Botswana football forward, at least on paper.
After the lengthy presentation, Letsoaka laid bare his tactics on how he will tackle the much-vaunted development project, which the BFA has placed at the forefront of its priorities. His approach will focus on three key areas; grass roots, coach education and youth development, ingredients, which Letsoaka believes will deliver a mouthwatering development programme.
Development was BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti’s ace as he traversed the country canvassing for support in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
After earning the right to lead the soccer body, Letshwiti established Youth Leagues around the country, arguing it was the only way to ensure success at national level.
Now the wheels of development are in motion, and the authorities at Lekidi are determined to leave a lasting legacy, and have deliberately placed the project at the top of the pile of priorities.
Letsoaka, a former Bafana Bafana assistant coach spoke the right language, but questions will forever crop up regarding implementation against a backdrop of financial challenges that constantly plague the soccer body.
BFA vice president, Marshlow Motlogelwa tried to bat away concerns over resources, saying all hands, including FIFA's, are on deck to ensure the success and sustainability of the programme.
"This (programme) is a reference point. FIFA is committed to assisting us and we are looking for partners to ensure the sustainability of the programme," he said.
Letsoaka was perturbed that there are no Pro-Licence holders in Botswana, and only three coaches hold the A-Licence.
He wants to turn the situation around and by 2020, promises to have trained at least 24 Pro-Licence holders and 210 A-Licence
"Under coach education, we will have accreditation of coaches. If you want good students, you must have good coaches," Letsoaka said.
His initial focus will be on grassroots, where he will ensure that football is played on every blade of grass in the country.
"We have to develop children in a proper way. They have to start early. That's why you don't take your child to school when they are 14 years, they start early."
He said there is need to establish a technical house at the BFA made up of technical experts where all the technical help would come from.
"We should have a technical house where we should be able to get the right information. National teams are going to be used as a yardstick of what we are doing. Help for national team coaches should come from the technical house," Letsoaka said.
He is of the view that there is need for Botswana to establish a playing philosophy, which will serve as the country's football identity.
"That (philosophy) should be the DNA of the country," he said.
Under youth development, Letsoaka wants all good young players to be in football academies.
"We are going to see a lot of academies around the country. Of course, these will be regulated and will work on the regulatory framework before the end of the year," Letsoaka, who has coached Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars and Golden Arrows in South Africa, said.
He said there is need to protect young talent by ensuring they get game time, and that they do not compete unnecessarily with foreigners. Letsoaka wants to see the Zebras ranked in the top 50 in the world and in the top five within the COSAFA region.
Name: Serame Letsoaka
Nationality: South African
Coaching qualifications: CAF Licence Diploma, SAFA Pro Licence Diploma, DFB Pro Licence Diploma
Coaching jobs: SA Under-17, 20 head coach, Under-23 asst coach, Bafana Bafana asst coach, technical director 2009-2012, Golden Arrows, Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars head coach, SAFA instructor, CAF elite instructor, FIFA instructor