Botswana in the dark as multi-million academy project collapses

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In a startling revelation, British multinational chemicals company –Ineos Group Ltd – abandoned the multi-million Botswana grassroots football project last year and the Botswana FA was made aware almost five months ago, FARPost can exclusively reveal.

In 2019, BFA and Ineos signed an agreement for the development and establishment of an academy in the diamond-rich nation. At least 10 hectares of the land was set aside on the eastern side of the National Stadium in Gaborone where plans were to erect a state-of-the-art academy.

The British entity, run by James Ratcliffe was going to finance the project at a cost in the region of P120 million (R160 million).

However, Ineos have since pulled out and FARPost can further reveal that they have set their sights on Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

David Thompson, a company official, who previously headed football operations (Africa) at Ineos, confirmed the setback, adding their decision to put the project on ice was communicated last summer (between June and August).

“They are stopping the project because of the seriousness of where we were (Covid-19). It is very unfortunate, I feel disappointed because it would have been so exciting to have been able to help youth in Botswana with the project,” he told FARPost in a telephonic interview.

Asked whether there was a possibility the company would reconsider its position on Botswana, he said: “For the foreseeable future no…”

Contacted for comment, BFA acting CEO, Thabiso Kebotsamang, ignored several phone calls and texts sent to him by FARPost. The association’s spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane, on the other hand, referred all questions to Kebotsamang.

Ineos has a similar project in Switzerland and under the arrangement, young excelling footballers from the Botswana’s Ineos academy would have been taken to Lausanne, Switzerland, to complete a further two years of academy training and education.

Ineos would have been the ones entirely running the facility with their experts carrying out the football development process. The planned state-of-the-art facility, according to the site layout, would have included, among other things, accommodation for up to 80 people, indoor training facility, a fully equipped gym, and a restaurant for both academy and public meals.

Three full size top-of-the-range Fifa-approved turf fields, an artificial turf, five-aside fields, a boardroom and office space and on site medical services for doctors and physiotherapists would have been part of the massive structure.

LAUSANNE,SWITZERLAND – APRIL 02: #37 Gabriel Arturo Torres Tejada (FCLS) vies with #13 Emil Bergstrom (GCZ) during the Swiss Super League match between FC Lausanne-Sport and Grasshopper Club Zurich, at Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne, on April 02, 2017. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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By Mthokozisi Dube

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