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BFA loses out on P120m academy

MQONDISI DUBE
Big loss: BFA was due to benefit from a state-of-the-art academy PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has lost out on a multi-million, world-class football academy after investors in the project withdrew, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on their finances.

 In 2019, the BFA signed agreements with British multinational chemical company, Ineos, which was supposed to fund the project.

Land for the project had been secured adjacent to the National Stadium. British chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist, James Ratcliffe, through his company Ineos Capital Limited, was willing to spend around $12 million (P120 million) on the project. Ineos had signed a lease agreement with the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) for the land.

However, the deal collapsed after the company indicated it was withdrawing due to the effects of COVID-19. “We were hit hard (by COVID-19). We had to pull out of some of the projects.

 It is unfortunate for the academy. It was going to be a great opportunity for the youngsters. However, it is one of the realities,” Ineos official, David Thompson told Mmegi Sport yesterday. He said there are no guarantees that if the situation improves, Ineos would still be interested in the project. “I don’t want to create expectations. We cannot say, never, but as I said I don’t want to raise expectations. I really feel sorry for the association. It would have been a great charitable cause to have the academy in Botswana,” he said. Ineos will focus on an academy in Ivory Coast, and Thompson said the two projects were different. “Ivory Coast is a different situation. It is not the same scope, it’s not a new academy.” He said Botswana had been identified after Ineos billionaire owner, Ratcliffe was impressed with the country’s wildlife conservation programmes. Ineos has been keen on establishing academies in Africa and BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti had invited the company’s officials to Botswana in 2017. The academy would have been pivotal in BFA’s much-vaunted development programme, as world class facilities would have been established. Ineos academy would have given young local players an opportunity to develop abroad. They would have been taken to Lausanne, Switzerland to complete a further two years of academy training and education, with a chance at professional football. The state-of-the-art facility would have included, amongst others, accommodation for up to 80 people, indoor training facility, fully equipped gym, and a restaurant for both academy and public meals. The academy would also include a high tech media

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conference centre, three full size top-of-the-range FIFA approved turf fields, an artificial turf, five-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on-site medical services for doctors and physiotherapists. No comment could be obtained from Letshwiti who said he was in meetings yesterday.

 

company indicated it was withdrawing due to the effects of COVID-19. “We were hit hard (by COVID-19). We had to pull out of some of the projects.

 It is unfortunate for the academy. It was going to be a great opportunity for the youngsters. However, it is one of the realities,” Ineos official, David Thompson told Mmegi Sport yesterday. He said there are no guarantees that if the situation improves, Ineos would still be interested in the project. “I don’t want to create expectations.

We cannot say, never, but as I said I don’t want to raise expectations. I really feel sorry for the association. It would have been a great charitable cause to have the academy in Botswana,” he said. Ineos will focus on an academy in Ivory Coast, and Thompson said the two projects were different.

“Ivory Coast is a different situation. It is not the same scope, it’s not a new academy.” He said Botswana had been identified after Ineos billionaire owner, Ratcliffe was impressed with the country’s wildlife conservation programmes. Ineos has been keen on establishing academies in Africa and BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti had invited the company’s officials to Botswana in 2017.

The academy would have been pivotal in BFA’s much-vaunted development programme, as world class facilities would have been established. Ineos academy would have given young local players an opportunity to develop abroad.

They would have been taken to Lausanne, Switzerland to complete a further two years of academy training and education, with a chance at professional football. The state-of-the-art facility would have included, among others, accommodation for up to 80 people, indoor training facility, fully equipped gym, and a restaurant for both academy and public meals.

The academy would also include a high tech media conference centre, three full size top-of-the-range FIFA approved turf fields, an artificial turf, five-a-side fields, boardroom and office space and on-site medical services for doctors and physiotherapists. No comment could be obtained from Letshwiti who said he was in meetings yesterday.



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