The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has this past weekend re-launched the Re Ba Bona Ha (RBBH) grassroots programme as part of their mission to resuscitate their centres following a long break owing to the covid-19 pandemic.
RBBH is a grassroots sports development project of the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) targeting children of 5 to 15 years in different sporting disciplines. The Maun session which had attracted over 200 boys and girls follows after the Gaborone one which was held a fortnight ago.
In an interview, BFA Technical Director Tshepo Mphukuthi explained that they are going around the country to resuscitate RBBH football centers around the country whose operations were halted because of the pandemic.
Mphukuthi emphasised that the program is vital for the children in terms of their health, growth and acquire football skills for the future football careers. “Apart from the football skills, we train these children life skills which help them to conduct themselves well in the community they leave in,” he stressed.
He noted that beneficiaries of the programme will graduate to the under 13, 15 and 17 Nhabe regional youth leagues adding that the BFA technical and regional coaches will also work closely to identifying the emerging talent for them to be enrolled in the national team structures.
He said before these beneficiaries can be taken to the national structures they can also be enrolled in other centers of sports excellence like Radisele and Mogoditshane which improve them further. Mphukuthi noted that recently the centers of sports excellence were developed and reinforced to continue producing the best.
“As BFA in partnership with BNSC, we visited these centers to see how we can develop the pitches there for them to be in the good state that will accommodate these kids so that they can feel comfortable when they are there,” he said.
As for the Maun center, Mphukuthi applauded that since its inception it has helped many teams within the Nhabe region such as Sankoyo Bush Bucks that saw the team promoted to the elite league. He noted that now that Sankoyo is not in the premier league, the program will help in restoring its glory days as they will scout more players from the program.
For his part, Nhabe Regional Football acting chairperson Jakalas Jakalas revealed that they will soon start the regional youth league which will enable them to accommodate these kids when they graduate from the programme. He said the beneficiaries will also have an opportunity to represent the region in various national youth tournaments.
Meanwhile, one of the coaches in Maun Tabokani King appreciated that since the programme was rolled out to Maun in 2004, they have witnessed few players who graduated from it among them being, Township Rollers’ Onkarabile Ratanang. He said there are more players that have gone through RBBH and some are now playing in the lower football division countrywide.
The programme was first introduced in 2002 as a pilot project but later became a fully-fledged one in 2003. It was first piloted with football in four identified centers within Gaborone in 2002 but later rolled out to Francistown, Selebi-Phikwe, Molepolole and Lobatse the following year and Maun in 2004.
Due to the increasing need to identify and nurture talent in Botswana, the success of the project led to it being extended to other sporting codes with volleyball coming on board in 2006 and athletics in 2007.