Tati African Football Associates (TAFA) is considered perhaps the oldest club in Francistown followed by Tati African Football Independent Club (TAFIC) and others such as Cannibals, Mophani and later Tatitown Sporting Club (TASC).
None of these clubs, which used to colour the town is in the Premiership. The likes of Mophani, TAFA and Cannibals are no more and all that the old city dwellers can do is reminisce about the past. Considering that Cannibals is the club that discovered the likes of Pogiso ‘Wrist’ Mmusi and Itumeleng Duiker, their demise is quite sad. Fast forward to 1992 and ECCO City Greens was born. Mamojadiski, as ECCO City Greens is affectionately known, gave the city of Francistown its first league trophy in 2007.
ECCO became the official town rival to TAFIC replacing the defunct TAFA and the struggling TASC. But one by one all these clubs have gone to the lower division leaving the second largest city without a Premiership team. As much as there was the scramble for Africa by the Europeans, equally there is a scramble for Francistown talent by clubs based in Gaborone. Judging by the vibe that accompanied the Zebras’ game against Burkina Faso followed by another successful Premiership match between Extension Gunners and Mochudi Centre Chiefs, surely the town has come to life and happy are its citizens.
Indeed, Francistown ino muka (The city is coming to life again). The atmosphere during games is something never experienced before. The vibe is at another level and Francistown is the place to host big games. But who then among the likes of Extension Gunners, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers will get the largest slice of the pie as far as support is concerned in Francistown. Last Saturday, Gunners made a telling statement that they command a large following in the city. Gunners were really the host as its supporters were the majority. We still have to see what Rollers can offer but as for Chiefs, its public relations department still has a lot of work to do. Chiefs have to work extra hard to demystify certain stigmas. Yes, the scramble for Francistown has started and only those who are smart will reap rewards while others will be sent to the cleaners. Already, there is talk that the Chiefs versus Rollers encounter billed for October 24 might be moved to Francistown.
As supporters, we can only be grateful for that. For the Premiership this is what the doctor has ordered as this enhances the brand of the league. No wonder the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation chief executive was in attendance at the Francistown Sports Complex and probably enjoyed every minute of the game although the 1-0 margin is a bit flattering to Gunners.
The margin could have been as high as 5-2 given the numerous chances missed by both teams, but especially Chiefs. That said, I would implore the Francistown City Council to motivate the construction of a road linking Gerald township with not only the stadium but the airport as well. With the township earmarked to have a CBD it would be wise to have a road that links the town from the other end to ease traffic congestion. Looking at the current setup, it would look like issues of logistics were not considered or budgeted for which should have been part of the construction of the stadium. The roads leading to the stadium ought to be widened into dual carriage ways than the current single lane which delays traffic and causes great inconvenience. It would also have been great to have at least four entrances in all the cardinal points leading into the stadium. From a safety and security point of view, I think this has been compromised and as the population of the city grows there could be more challenges.
After an explosive start to the league, news emerging from the Extension Gunners camp are not good. There is talk that Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul has been suspended. In fact, I have long smelt a rat when it was revealed that he does not have a written contract with the club. That said a lot about the body language of the club. It was a sign that there were some doubts. And when Gunners lost to Orapa United and drew with the likes of Miscellaneous, I could sense that sooner or later trouble would brew.
The unfortunate part with many of our club administrators is failure to accept reality and to make decisions at the spur of the moment. Honestly speaking, I do not expect Gunners to challenge for league honours but would rather expect the team to give its best in the Mascom Top 8 Cup. Cup competitions are easy to manage than a league title, which is a marathon and one needs a bit of experience all round, from the back room staff all the way to welfare manager.
Certain things might look easy but are not, they only seem to be. Gunners need stability and it has not been there for a while. It is either the executive is fighting among itself or the players not being paid. I had therefore thought that the club would like to build on its early success than to try to punch holes whenever there is a little challenge. Surprisingly, when watching the game from the stands last Saturday one fan just remarked: owai baya go mo koba, meaning, Pio will be fired simply because he was not impressed with one of his players. But ever since his playing days he has always been a passionate person who gives all and calls a spade a spade. He is not a pretender, which should be a plus for him. I am told the only coach who always reduced Pio to a small boy is Losikalwame ‘Six’ Keatlholetswe. I have attended some of Keatlholetswe’s training sessions and if a player is not strong, they can easily leave the training field. Once on the pitch he is a completely different person from the one who publicly seem to be reserved and laid back. Maybe, Pio has copied some of Six’s on-the-field antics. But, all in all, a stable Gunners is a good omen for Botswana soccer just as it was demonstrated recently in Francistown where the supporters came in large numbers. Hopefully, management will be sober and objective in its assessment of the situation.
Zebras vs Eritrea
Given that Eritrea is a small nation from a football perspective and the surge in football from the central district, I would take the game against Eritrea to the Serowe Sports Complex just to thank the people of Mahalapye, Palapye, Serowe and the surrounding areas. Eritrea can either lodge at the Serowe Hotel or alternatively at Botsalo Hotel in Palaye where there are a lot of lodges. The Zebras ought to move around the country and the north-central has not had an opportunity to host them. We need a rethink in that regard.