Francistown the best venue for Zebras BFA

12th man: The Zebras have received massive support in Francistown. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
12th man: The Zebras have received massive support in Francistown. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG

Francistown is a viable venue for Zebras matches for now, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer, Kitso Kemoeng has said.

Zebras have recently been pulling crowds at the newly opened Francistown Sports Complex, both in the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup qualifiers.

Kemoeng said although he has not yet received reports of past games, which he is waiting for, he is convinced that in terms of crowds, both Gaborone and Lobatse have dwindled. “Lobatse is actually worse. In Francistown for now you have the numbers,” he said.

He added that the association needs close to a million to put up a national team match. “If we spend a million on a national team, and we go to a venue where if you are lucky you see 10,000 spectators and half of them have jumped over the wall, it doesn’t make sense. Since half of the spectators did not pay, are you anywhere close to the P1 million?” he asked.

He said he might be speaking without facts since he is waiting for official reports, but is convinced Francistown currently attracts better crowds. He gave an example of a friendly match between Ethiopia and Botswana at the National Stadium during the Independence Day where despite free entry, the game could not attract numbers closer to those in Francistown.

He said they are still faced with some challenges though with regard to hosting games in Francistown which include hotel and staff costs, but said they are addressing them on an ongoing basis.

He said they have reduced the number of staff members travelling for Zebras matches in Francistown. He said they are in talks with some service providers in Francistown to have some of their accommodation costs scrapped off. “Look at it this way, even if you spend P100,000 on staff, executives and other guests, the Francistown gate will give you back P100,000 and still leaves you with a better situation than Gaborone and Lobatse,” Kemoeng said.

He said he is still waiting for the figures in order to make a meaningful comment. He said whether Francistown is for the future or not is something that they will look at on case by case basis.

He said for now they think the venue is doing well for them. He also said the national team also believes the Francistown Sports Complex is a better place for them for now. “I hope I am not quoting Zebras coach Peter Butler out of context when he said in Gaborone you get 3,000 to 4,000 people jeering at the national team. In Francistown, you get 15,000 to 20,000 people cheering their national team,” he said.  He said authorities in other places where there are stadia need to raise their hands like the ones in Francistown so that they can be counted. He said for now they have more reasons to go to Francistown. Meanwhile, Kemoeng admitted that he has not done much in areas of upping development initiatives, projects and programmes as much as he had envisaged. He said this was not helped by the temporary loss of senior members in the technical department who went on special leave before the roles clarity issues could be adequately addressed.

“There still remains a lot to be done in the technical department particularly with respect to addressing matters of role clarity. I remain hopeful that this matter will soon be resolved to enable all those concerned to firm their focus on development,” he said. He also promised to fast track the association into benefiting from FIFA goal projects. He said he is concerned that despite the fact that there is a FIFA office in the country, Botswana is only on Goal Project III while others are already at Goal Project VI.

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